Question: I've got some questions about a QDRO. I need to get a QDRO to get some of my ex-husband's retirement money. He has a 401 (k) with his company and I am entitled to some of it under my divorce agreement. I'm going to need it because he made a lot more money than I did and I've got bills to pay. He's retiring really soon from his company in Atlanta. Now I need a QDRO lawyer to help me.
We got divorced about 4 months ago because he met another woman. Our marriage had been bad for some time due to his drinking and traveling all the time for work. Even with marriage counseling he never really tried hard to get our marriage on track. I suspected other women for a long time but he said there was no one else. Then one day he said he wanted a divorce and that he was ready to marry another lady.
At first he didn't tell me who the other woman was. But I saw an email that was sent to his personal email account and that's when I figured it out. The other lady was our next-door-neighbor. She lives right next door to us. She's actually a friend of mine and we're even in the same book club. So I see her at least once a month. I never suspected it would be her. I thought it would be a woman from work, or a bar, or someone he met on a business trip. So I was stunned and now I'm also depressed.
We were married for 19 years and have three kids, all girls. And they are all teenagers, so I will definitely need all the money that I'm entitled to. The girls are into cheerleading and they take dance lessons and singing lessons.
Please tell me who determines if I even need to do a QDRO? Maybe I can save time and money if I don't have to get a QDRO done. Also, can I get one of my daughter's listed as a person who can get money from the QDRO too? I'd like to get her listed so we can both get money from his 401 (k).
P.P. in East Cobb, Georgia
Answer: Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), the retirement plan administrator is initially responsible for determining whether a domestic relations order is a QDRO (some are not).
The Retirement Plan Administrator is that individual or group in a company that is responsible for the management of the retirement plan. That retirement plan can be either a pension plan, a 401 (k), or something else. So it is up to the specific company involved to determine whether there needs to be a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or not to divide a retirement account.
In your divorce, if it was agreed that you alone would be the recipient of the money from the 401 (k), then you cannot add another person to be a recipient under the QDRO. You would be the sole payee.