{2:30 minutes to read}  What I find kind of interesting about a QDRO is that getting it approved requires a number of people:

1. The Couple — especially in mediation, the parties have to approve the terms of the QDRO; and

2. Their Lawyers — in litigation or collaborative divorce it speeds everything if the lawyers agree; and

3. The Judge; and

4. The Plan Administrator.

If any of those approvals are missing, the QDRO will not be valid. This may seem unusual, since in the court system when a judge signs an order, that’s pretty much the end of it. But that is not the case with QDROs. After the judge signs the order, it goes to the plan administrator, who has to finally, officially declare it qualified.

Because this qualification is so important, we usually submit the QDRO to the plan administrator for pre-approval. First, we have the couple and their attorneys and/or their mediator review it, and then the plan administrator. When everybody is satisfied, it goes to the court for the judge to sign. Generally, court approval is pro forma. Problems here are usually because different courts have different procedures or different fees. After the judge signs the order, we need to obtain a certified copy from the court clerk’s office. At that point, when the QDRO goes back to the plan for final administration, it’s been pre-approved, so there’s no question it will be acceptable.

If you don’t follow the routine, you can run into problems because there may be items in the order that are not acceptable to the plan administrator. Sometimes they are trivial and easy to fix; like not using the exact name of the plan. Other times they are more substantial because certain plans will not do exactly what some other plans might do.

QDROs are complicated legal documents with many facets to be considered. If you would like to speak with me regarding a QDRO, please contact me at 845-638-4666.

Steven L. Abel, Esq.
101 South Broadway
Nyack, NY 10960
(P) 845-638-4666
(E) [email protected]