Despite being a very valuable tool, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is one of the most often overlooked documents that can impact a divorce. If you are splitting up, you need to consider whether or not a QDRO applies to your divorce and if you need to use one.
If your spouse has a pension or a retirement plan, that is an important asset. Don’t worry about the fact that your spouse hasn’t retired yet and therefore isn’t using the plan. It’s still an asset that they have earned during the marriage.
As such, you may have a right to at least a portion of that asset. Just as you would have a right to money that the two of you set aside to save for retirement, that accumulated pension plan could go to both you and your ex — even if your spouse doesn’t start collecting revenue from it for years after the divorce.
A QDRO is the paperwork that defines how the pension will be divided. For instance, if you’re entitled to 25% of the pension, the QDRO ensures that that portion goes to you, rather than your ex. This can help you plan for your own retirement. You thought that your spouse’s pension would cover your bills. The divorce may change your retirement in a lot of ways, but it does not mean that you suddenly lose financial assets that you had been counting on and planning for. You may not have time to come up with an alternative, after all.
If you do think you need to use a QDRO, it’s time to learn everything you can about the process.