Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
QDRO’s (sometimes referred to as QUADRO) are controlled by and must comply with federal law. The controlling statue is contained in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It defines a QDRO as a domestic relations order that creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a retirement plan, and that includes certain information and meets certain other requirements. The U.S. Department of Labor frequently asked questions, available here, is a good place to start learning about QDRO’s.
I can help at any point in the process. If your divorce is not yet completed, I can obtain the proper information from the retirement plan in question, and suggest the language to be included in your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. My advice will of course depend on your role, are you the member (Participant) or the one that is to receive benefits of your former spouse’s plan (Alternate Payee).
If the Judgment has already been entered, I can draft the QDRO, and submit it to the Plan Administrator for pre-approval. Once pre-approved, I motion the court for entry of the QDRO. Once entered by the Judge, I obtain a certified copy of the QDRO and provide that copy to the Plan Administrator.
If the plan is a 401(k) type plan, the Plan Administrator will implement the QDRO and divide the Participant’s (person that participated in the plan) portion per the QDRO, rolling over the Alternate Payee’s (other party) share of that portion into a new account in his/her name.
If the plan is a pension type plan (a plan that will pay a monthly benefit from time of retirement until death), the Plan Administrator will implement the QDRO and wait until the Alternate Party is eligible to receive his/her monthly benefit based on the Alternate Payee’s expected life span. Some Plan’s do not have this option, and the Alternate Payee must wait until the Participant reaches his/her earliest to receive the Alternate Payee’s portion (usually reduced), or until the Participant actually retires, to receive the Alternate Payee’s full benefit.
The retirement plans requiring a QDRO to be divided can be very complicated. The terms of the QDRO are very arcane, but extremely important. The wrong wording can cause one to gain tens or hundreds of thousand of dollars more/less, or loose all interest in a retirement plan when the other party dies. Each plan and its division should be handled by an experienced attorney.
If your Judgment has been entered, I can review it, and if there are problematic provisions, I can ask the court to revise it, or appeal the Judgment to the Appellate Court. However, in most instances, all this must be done within 30 days of entry of the Judgment.
If the QDRO has already been entered, I can review it. If it provide too much or not enough benefits or protections, I can motion to court to revise it or appeal the court’s decision to the appellate court. Time is of essence in these circumstances. Of course, which option you choose will depend on the particular situation: how much money is involved and what your chances of winning are. You will know the first part and I will inform you of the second.
About QDRO, INC.
QRDO, INC. is led by Thomas P. Miller, the principal of the firm. Thomas created this firm model, to provide a complete, mostly flat fee, QDRO service as a result of his experience as a Chicagoland area family law mediator and litigator.
QDRO, INC. particularly assists other attorneys in this technical and often tedious area of your case, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.
QDRO, INC. applies the same strengths Thomas has used in his traditional law practice.
“I pride myself on my professionalism and availability to my clients, who can always contact me directly. I maximize use of technology to save you time and money.”
– Thomas Miller
Beginning in 2001, Thomas started handling QDRO’s and QILDRO’s, and has handled incrementally more each year since. Thomas noted, “I have also seen a lot done badly. Many errors had to do with timing, which could be the attorney’s fault or the party’s fault, but regardless it creates a great potential for loss and for lawyer liability.”
The solution was setting up an attorney centered approach that is affordable. This is QDRO, INC. We process the forms, run them by the Plan, and have an attorney in the proper jurisdiction complete the court process. This might involve a single court appearance, or numerous court dates and presentment of legal arguments.
Of course, the attorney around whom all this is centered has to be a solid professional. Thomas Miller graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Psychology and Political Science, and completed his Juris Doctor degree at the DePaul University College of Law in 2000. Since then, Thomas has been practicing law, handling many negotiations, litigating intensive family law cases, practicing before appellate courts and mediating numerous conflicts. He has extensive experience preparing Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO’s) and Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders (QILDRO’s).
Thomas P. Miller is licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Illinois.