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Copy of What is a (Q)DRO?


A (Qualified) Domestic Relations Order is a court order that authorizes 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 implement a previous award of a retirement interest. Stacey 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, Oregon Savings Growth Plan and traditional union pensions, 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 applied at retirement using such factors as salary history & duration of employment ('creditable service').

You may be in the process of divorcing; if so, you need expert guidance as you negotiate the property settlement terms relating to dividing retirement assets in your case. You may already be divorced but now find yourself many years (sometimes decades) later applying for retirement benefits, only to find that the plan refuses to distribute benefits until it receives a (Q)DRO or proof that the former spouse was awarded no interest in the retirement benefit at issue. 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. Stacey can help you understand and secure your rights in this context.

(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 $700 to $1,100. Transfers under defined benefit plans present more complexities, and Stacey's fee generally ranges from $900-$1,250. Each case is unique!


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