What is a QDRO?

QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order  A domestic relations order is  court order designed to distribute a piece of a pension or retirement account to a former spouse. The order is qualified by the pension administrator.. Federal law requires this extra step of qualification to ensure that the order issued by a state divorce court does not conflict with the provisions of that employer’s pension or retirement plan. Every kind of retirement benefit requires a QDRO, including the traditional monthly-check-until-death pension, called a “defined benefit plan,” as well as every type of tax-deferred retirement account, called a “defined contribution plan,” including 401k, 403b, 457, TSP, and KEOGH plans, among others. Many people make the mistake of assuming that a judgment of divorce or divorce settlement agreement is all they need to get a portion of their former spouse’s retirement benefits.