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What Retirement Benefits Need a QDRO

In a divorce, both parties are required to disclose all assets & debts which may consist of community property as well as separate property. Wages and retirement accounts from the date of marriage to the date of separation may be considered community property. Some couples decide to divide their retirement accounts in their final agreement. Below is a list of common retirement accounts you may have, that may need to be divided, and the process that can be used to divide those assets.


  1. Traditional and Roth IRA Account: You should always check with your financial advisor before drafting your language for your divorce settlement. IRAs are not divided with a QDRO, but instead a Transfer Incident to Divorce. This means that one of the parties can transfer a portion of their IRA to the other party in order to satisfy the requirements of their divorce settlement agreement.

  2. 401(k): If you have a 401(k) that is being divided in your divorce, a QDRO (pronounded quad-ro) also known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order will have to be prepared. Check with your plan administrator on the requirements, many companies have a handbook which may contain model language that can be used to draft the QDRO.

  3. Pension: Pensions will also required a QDRO. Check with the administrator of you pension so that you can determine if they have model language.

  4. 403(b) or Other Goverment Retirement Plans: You will need a QDRO to divide these plans. In addition to a QDRO, you may also need a Joinder to join the plan to the court case.

Remember to use a professional that is familiar with the procedures and requirements of your plan. If you need a QDRO, reach out to Diablo Document Preparation for a quote.


Nothing in this article is to be construed as legal advice. This is general information that is available to the public. Jessica Ward is not an attorney, cannot give legal advice or represent you in court. Jessica Ward is a legal document assistant and can prepare documents at your specific direction.



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