If you are considering a divorce or are in the process of one, you may have heard of the term QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This is an important document that outlines the division of retirement assets, such as 401(k) and pension accounts, between the two parties in a divorce. It is important to understand that a QDRO is a separate document from the divorce decree, and that it is a legally binding document that must adhere to certain rules and regulations.
When it comes to the question of where to get a QDRO form, the best place to go for the most accurate and up-to-date information is an attorney that specializes in QDROs and regularly deals with retirement plans. However, if you cannot locate an attorney in your area or an attorney that fits your budget, there are some document template websites that can be effective. Retirement plans themselves also provide model language that can be used to draft orders.
In this blog post, we will discuss the different places you can go to get QDRO forms. We will review the pros and cons of each option and provide advice on how to make sure you are getting the correct form and best outcome from your divorce.
Seek assistance from a qualified attorney
One of the best ways to ensure that you have all the necessary information for your QDRO form is to seek assistance from a qualified attorney. An attorney can explain the various options available for dividing your retirement benefits, as well as explain the legal ramifications of each choice. An attorney can also provide guidance on how to structure the documents, review the QDRO form to ensure it is filled out correctly, and answer any questions you may have.
Make sure you understand the scope of services that your attorney provides and his or her level of expertise. Some will only draft the documents, but will not provide services for pre-approval, signing, or filing. Some are general family law attorneys that “dabble” in QDROs and will see the process through, but may not have the expertise to handle more complicated orders.
Seek assistance from a template website
Most lawyers will give me an evil glare for even admitting that QDRO document generation websites exist. They fear template websites as the coming apocalypse of our profession. On the other hand, I see them as filling a need for a low-cost solution and a perfectly suitable answer for advanced laypeople that have the patience to understand the options these websites provide. Just be aware that these templates are built for the most common and most simple plan divisions, so they may not fit all cases. If you have a high-value account or a complex division, consider at least consulting with a QDRO attorney before saving a few bucks on a template.
Some template websites include LexyAlgo QDRO and Fidelity’s own QDRO center (which only makes orders for their own plans).
Obtain a QDRO form from the employer
A third option for obtaining a QDRO form is to get it from the employer. You should contact the employer’s Human Resources or Benefits department and ask them to provide you with a copy of the form. You may also be able to get a copy of the form from the plan administrator. Sometimes, the plan administrator is someone inside the company’s HR department, while at other times, the company will hire an outside attorney for QDRO consulting agency to handle their orders.
It is important to understand that the plan is not required to provide you with a QDRO form, but they may have prepared models that they offer to save time. Many of the times, these models are written with the plan’s best interest in mind and they may not have sufficient language to protect you in all worst case scenarios, but for low-value plans or if you cannot afford an attorney, they are a great place to start.
In conclusion, if you need a QDRO form, you have several options. You can seek the help of a QDRO specialist or attorney who can provide the form for you, you can use a QDRO preparation website to generate the document, or you can obtain model forms from the employer or plan administrator.
No matter which option you choose, make sure to read through the document carefully and make sure it is accurate before submitting it to the court – QDROs may seem simple to prepare (and they can be!), but they are also easy to do incorrectly and mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars. Consider whether saving a few dollars up front is worth it over spending more on an experienced attorney to ensure your nest egg is protected.