What is a (Q)DRO?


A (Qualified) Domestic Relations Order is a court order that authorize a retirement Plan to lawfully administer and distribute retirement benefits to a retirement plan participant's spouse or former spouse due to divorce. Stacey represents clients who are either currently divorcing or who have already divorced and are needing a (Q)DRO to carry-out a previous award of a retirement interest. She provides expert representation in this context, including identifying retirement benefits in the divorce and post-divorce setting, advising on methods of division, and preparing the (Q)DRO.

Retirement benefits are financial interests acquired through participation (usually related to employment or union-membership) in retirement plans / programs, such as 401(a), 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) Plans, IRAs, federal plans (TSP accounts, FERS & CSRS annuities), state government plans such as Oregon PERS, OPSRP, IAP, and traditional union pension plans, among others. Many of these plans maintain current account balances and are simple and straightforward for purposes of valuation and division. Others are defined benefit plans in which a participant’s benefits are determined based on a formula using such factors as salary history and duration of employment.

You may be in the process of divorcing; if so, you need expert guidance in property settlement negotiations relating to the division of retirement assets in your case. You may be already divorced but now find yourself many years later applying for retirement benefits, only to find that the plan refuses to distribute benefits until it receives a (Q)DRO; on the flip side, perhaps your former spouse is now applying for retirement and the plan has notified you that it needs a specialized court order before it can distribute benefits to you. Stacey can help you understand and secure your rights in this context as expediently as is possible.

(Q)DRO attorney fees and services vary from case to case and depend on the type and number of retirement interests that need to be divided, the stage of the divorce when you retain counsel, and the degree of cooperation from the opposing party (or opposing counsel, or both). Stacey's fee for simple transfer of a defined contribution plan account ranges from $650 to $900. Transfers under defined benefit plans present more complexities, but if there are no or few 'glitches' her fee ranges from $800-$950. Each case is unique.