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What is a QDRO, and might it be important in my divorce?

Here's a quick twofold response to the above-posed headline query: A QDRO is, in its long-form appellation, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and, yes, it can become a focal point in many divorces.

"If you have a retirement account and you're facing a divorce, you may become quite familiar with this acronym," notes an online examination of a QDRO and what it essentially entails.

A QDRO -- which is a judicially issued judgment/decree -- centrally relates to an agreement between divorcing parties concerning the distribution of proceeds in a retirement plan. Accounts that fall under the umbrella of a QDRO and are subject to a property-settlement agreement are widely construed, ranging from company-sponsored 401(k) plans to pensions and other savings vehicles.

Many people fundamentally regard qualified domestic relations orders as instruments for promoting fairness in divorce outcomes, especially in instances where a substantial amount of wealth is held in one or more accounts designated for payment to only one spouse. A QDRO recognizes the other spouse's right of collection as an alternate payee, and sets in motion the process for an agreed-upon modification to one or more affected accounts.

Unsurprisingly, overviews of QDROS and their requirements often stress the complex nature of these legal instruments and recommend that parties interested in the subject timely enlist assistance from a proven attorney well experienced in divorce-related property distribution matters.

QDROs "can be complicated," notes the above-cited online source.

That article further notes that, while an individual might attempt to follow through on the QDRO process (filling out forms and so forth) without outside help, doing so is inadvisable, with a better strategy being "to speak with an attorney about drafting a QDRO that meets specific needs."

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