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Retirement Accounts in a Divorce Require Special Documents

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2019 | Retirement Asset Division

Did you know retirement accounts in a divorce require special documents known as Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or QDROs?  Can a DIY divorce truly manage the QDRO process?

According to the State of California more than 80% of couples begin the divorce process on their own.  Here in Carlsbad our own Family Law Court reports less than half are able to complete the process without the assistance of an attorney.

One of the most common issues in a divorce case is the division of retirement accounts and pensions.  Retirement accounts and pensions are usually considered to be (at least partially) community property in a divorce.  Community property must be equally divided before a Judge can issue final orders in your case.

The separate documents required for the division of retirement assets such as a 401(k) are an example of the complexities that trap would be DIY divorces.  Failing to properly prepare and submit a QDRO to your plan administrator and the court are one of the major issues which prevent their divorces from being completed.

QDROs are very specific to the individual plan administrator.  Most providers of 401(k) plans have their own preferences (and often specific contractual clauses and specifications) when it comes to the paperwork required for the Court to effectively distribute marital assets. A separate Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO will be necessary for each of your 401(k) accounts.

If one of the former spouses is a teacher, public employee or other pension plan participant, it will be necessary to manage a separate process for CALSTRS or CALPERS. Each will require specific documentation and must be included as a party in the divorce process.

These highly technical documents must be well crafted to accurately identify the amounts to be divided and the process the administrator is to follow.  If the QDRO is not properly structured or a single sentence within is not completed or detailed enough to satisfy the plan administrator the QDRO will be rejected and expensive and time consuming litigation will follow.

Retirement accounts in a divorce require special documents and extensive legal skill and experience.  This is why it is important to work with the Certified Specialists at Burke & Domercq.   Your divorce cannot be completed until all aspects of the separation agreement including retirement benefits are accounted for and appropriately divided.  Retirement accounts in a divorce require special documents in order to complete your divorce.  If you are considering divorce and either spouse has a retirement account or pension we invite you to contact Burke & Domercq or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Carlsbad divorce attorneys.