What are the steps in the QDRO process?

1) Gather Information – In order to draft a QDRO I will need to obtain a copy of your Judgment of Divorce and Property Settlement Agreement, as these documents specify how the retirement benefits are to be divided. I will contact the pension plan to obtain information from them as to the procedures they follow when dividing benefits.

2) Draft QDRO – Once I have received the above information, I can draft the QDRO. I will forward the QDRO to you for your review with an understandable explanation of the QDROs technical language.

3) Approval of Draft by Pension Plan – Pension plans are very picky about how QDROs are prepared so a draft is sent to them for their review. It is not uncommon for the pension plan to request changes to the draft language.

4) Approval by Ex-Spouse – Although the language dividing pension benefits was agreed to in your divorce settlement, your ex-spouse must agree to the QDRO language before it is entered as a Court Order. Most of the time this step can be accomplished without a problem but sometimes disagreements occur regarding a QDRO, which can slow the process down.

5) Approval by Judge – Once the QDRO is approved by you and your ex-spouse it is forwarded to a Judge for approval by the Court. This is done by mail and a Court appearance is not necessary.

6) File a Certified Copy – Once the Judge has approved the QDRO, the original is filed in the County Clerk’s office of where the Court is located and a certified copy is obtained.

7) Final Approval by Pension Plan – The certified copy of the QDRO is forwarded to the pension plan for final approval.

How Long Does This Process Usually Take? – Generally speaking completing this process takes between 6 to 12 months. The biggest delays depend on how cooperative your ex-spouse is and the length of time it takes for the pension plan to respond to my letters to them.

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