In California divorce proceedings, courts must divide the community property equally between the spouses. It doesn’t include separate property, which is property owned prior to marriage and property acquired by gift, inheritance, or after separation. It involves community property relating to retirement benefits. When it comes to dividing retirement benefits, courts must issue whatever orders are necessary to make sure both spouses receive their full community property share of any retirement plans, which might call for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).
A QDRO is a special type of court order that divides certain retirement plan benefits in a divorce. In a participants retirement plan (In QDRO language the person whose interest is being transferred is called the “participant”) the QDRO creates the existence of an alternate payee (a payee is a person to whom the interest is transferred) and their right to receive all, or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a retirement plan.
A domestic relations order is a judgment, decree, or order in a divorce that relates to the provision of child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights for the benefit of a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant. A QDRO is issued in addition to a marital settlement agreement (MSA) or final judgment permitting your divorce. It contains specific directions to the retirement plan administrator regarding how the plan should be divided between the spouses and/or payees. It’s essential that your QDROs are accurate and complete or you may not be able to receive them later.
If you are considering dividing your retirement benefits and need guidance with the Qualified Domestic Relations Order, please contact Thorsteinson Law Group to help you. We provide complimentary consultations, and are dedicated to helping you through the divorce and post-divorce process.