{2 minutes to read}  I’m somewhat amazed by how many calls I get from individuals, lawyers, and mediators asking me to work on QDROs for people who were divorced 5, 10 and 15 years ago. The reason why people delay in getting the QDRO is not the point. The problem is the danger involved in waiting to have the QDRO prepared long after a divorce. 

Once people are actually divorced, the employee, or the owner of any particular retirement plan, is free to take the money and do what they want. The legal protections that are provided by federal law for married couples disappear as soon as the judge signs the divorce judgment. The result is that waiting can be very dangerous. While most people are very honest and will not simply take the money and disappear, there have been many situations, whether because of evil motives or just the need for money, the owner of the account removed the money and spent it.

This creates problems for everybody involved, whether it’s the other party who was entitled to the money, the lawyer who failed to process the QDRO or the mediator who didn’t sufficiently advise the parties of the importance of all this. From everyone’s point of view, failing to process a QDRO is just a disaster waiting to happen, and one that is easy to avoid. Simply have the QDRO drafted before the divorce papers are submitted and then submit it together with the divorce papers. That can avoid just about every one of these bizarre problems from arising.

This also avoids problems in locating the plan. When enough time has gone by, administrators change, plan names change, and everything just becomes more difficult. Handling the QDRO right away should be a priority.  

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