Qualified Domestic Relations Order-QDRO

In Florida, upon getting divorced a spouse is entitled to a portion of the other spouse’s retirement benefits.  Florida Statute § 61.076 (1) governs the distribution of retirement plans upon the dissolution of marriage.  This statute provides that “All vested and non vested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs are marital assets subject to equitable distribution.”

If you are contemplating getting divorced and your spouse has any type of retirement benefits as listed above, you will definitely want an attorney’s help to manage this process.  At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. is extremely experienced in dealing with the important issues that are inherent in the division of retirement plans during your dissolution of marriage. New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. will properly advise you as to all of your rights as they are related to retirement plans because these benefits will more than likely have a lasting impact on your future financial security.

Even if you and your spouse go through an amicable or uncontested divorce and agree to an equal division of retirement benefits, a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage alone is not enough to legally divide current retirement benefits or even designate future benefits that are tied up in a retirement plan.  It is important to understand that retirement benefits may have significant federal income tax consequences if these benefits are received in a manner that violates the United States Tax Code.  Therefore, in order for retirement benefits to be properly divided between you and your spouse, a legal document that is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) needs to be drawn up, agreed upon between you and your spouse, approved by retirement plan administrators, and then approved by the Family Law Court.

There are a number of steps which must be taken in order to obtain a QDRO.  First, the valuations of the retirement benefits being divided must be actuarially determined in order to identify the exact level of the retirement benefits that are available to you or your spouse.  Then, the terms contained within the QDRO must be presented to your spouse (usually to his or her attorney) for their agreement. Once both parties agree upon all of the terms contained in the QDRO, next the QDRO must be submitted to the retirement plan administrator for the plan’s approval.  These administrators have very exact and strict guidelines which must be followed.  If any issues arise, it is extremely important for you to have representation throughout the negotiations that will be required in order to resolve these issues.

New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. understands that your spouse (through his or attorney) will be arguing for terms that are for their own benefit and New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. will protect your rights in order to obtain a reasonable outcome on your behalf.

Again, it is strongly advised that you obtain an attorney to assist you in navigating through the process of obtaining or negotiating a QDRO.  Please contact New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. if you have any questions about the process of obtaining a QDRO.