Minnesota QDRO Attorney

QDROs, or Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, are a tool to help you divide retirement assets in the event of a divorce. No one ever plans for a divorce, but it is often difficult to untangle and divide assets from the marriage when it happens. The process can be complicated and hard to understand and requires additional assistance from an attorney. This article will discuss what a QDRO is, what they do, and the benefits of obtaining a QDRO when dividing marital assets in a divorce.

Experienced QDRO Representation in Minnesota

Going through a divorce is often an excruciating and complicated process. To make matters worse, much of the process focuses on property and money. Depending on the circumstances, it can be hard to know what assets and funds you are entitled to when that process occurs. It is vital to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side in those circumstances.

Your divorce attorney will help you receive the assets to which you are entitled and defend you throughout the entire divorce process. Heimerl & Lammers divorce lawyers are ready to help you with your divorce proceedings case. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call us at (612) 294-2200 today.

What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

QDROs simplify the division of retirement assets such as 401Ks, IRAs, or pensions in divorce proceedings for both parties in the divorce. A QDRO is a legal order that requires retirement plans to pay a portion of a participant’s retirement benefits to their former spouses. For example, if you are undergoing a divorce and your spouse has a 401K, you will be able to access the funds in that account via a QDRO. Assets in retirement funds such as 401Ks or pensions are considered joint marital assets, meaning that both spouses have a legal claim to those funds.

The QDRO provides retirement plans with the directives needed for parties to access to those funds in the event of divorce. The spouse not directly contributing to the retirement account may be required to petition the court for the QDRO to access the retirement plan funds by covering early withdrawal fees or other penalties.

When in the Divorce Process Do I Obtain a QDRO?

A QDRO is a post-divorce decree order, meaning that you must obtain it after the court has settled your divorce action.

How Do I Obtain a QDRO?

A divorce decree generally requires that the former couple divide their retirement accounts but might not dictate precisely how it should proceed. Obtaining the divorce decree may seem complicated, but the final divorce decree is only one step in completing the entire process. Following that decree, there are several steps that an experienced family law attorney must take to obtain the QDRO:

  1. Contact the Plan Administrator for each retirement plan you and your former spouse have. In most cases, the particular retirement plan will already have a QDRO process and provide sample QDRO language to use when beginning the QDRO process.
  2. Your attorney drafts the QDRO and sends it to your former spouse via their own family law attorney for review.
  3. Your former spouse’s attorney will review the terms of the QDRO and provide revisions or additions as necessary.
  4. The opposing attorney will return the revised QDRO for review. Depending on the objectives of each party, the length of the negotiation may vary.
  5. Once the parties have agreed on the QDRO’s terms and language, your family law attorney will send the mutually-approved QDRO to the plan administrator for review approval pending court proceedings.
  6. After the retirement plan administrator has granted preliminary approval, the QDRO is reviewed by the Court for approval. If all parties—the court, you, and your former spouse—sign off on the QDRO, the QDRO is approved.
  7. Once the QDRO is signed off by all parties and approved by the court, your attorney must order a certified copy of the QDRO, which is then sent to the retirement plan administrator.
  8. Assuming no further issues, the administrator reviews the QDRO upon receipt and approves it.
  9. Some retirement plan providers have additional periods for comments and appeals following receipt and approval of the QDRO. Depending on the provider, these periods may last 30 to 90 days. Once the comments and approvals periods end, the QDRO will go into effect.

It is essential to be patient throughout the entire process, as the QDRO process can take some time to complete. The process can take substantial time depending on the court backlog and the specific plan administrator’s backlog and procedures. This process may also take even longer depending on how many retirement benefits accounts you had between you and your former spouse. Even though it may feel as if the process is taking too long, it is crucial to remain vigilant and responsive to requests and correspondence from the court and plan administrators. If the parties are responsive and work efficiently, the QDRO process may take less time than it would with delayed responses.

What Are the Benefits of Obtaining a QDRO?

QDROs provide benefits to both the plan participant’s spouse and non-plan participant. While QDRO proceedings may be confusing and time-consuming, they have several benefits, including:

  • Ensuring that the non-plan participant spouse pays the taxes and fees on the distributed plan benefits,
  • Enabling a former spouse to receive benefits after the plan participant has died, and
  • Allowing the plan participant to avoid paying early withdrawal fees or additional tax penalties resulting from the marital asset division; these fees and penalties are paid by the non-participant spouse bringing petitioning for the QDRO.

Do I Need a QDRO Lawyer to Obtain a QDRO?

At first glance, the QDRO process seems quite simple. In actual practice, the process is complicated, and can take quite some time.

Concerning QDRO documents, there are specific clauses, language, and requirements that the QDRO must contain to be accepted by the plan provider, the court, and your former spouse’s legal counsel. If components are missing, this could delay asset division even further or result in complete denial of those funds. QDRO forms are a vital part of the division process, and to ensure your success on your request, it is crucial that you have an experienced family law lawyer to assist you.

An experienced family law attorney will also help evaluate and manage expectations. Even if your QDRO process is successful, the time the process takes from beginning to end can be lengthy. The process could take longer depending on the number of retirement accounts held between you and your former spouse. Additionally, each plan provider’s process requirements are different, resulting in further delays.

Hiring a Minnesota Family Law Attorney

If you are going through divorce proceedings, you know how important it is to receive the property and assets you are entitled to. While the court oversees this process, it is crucial that you have an experienced family law attorney to ensure the best result. Heimerl & Lammers divorce attorneys are ready to help you with your case today. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call us at (612) 294-2200.