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What is a Florida Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

When you think of property division in a divorce, assets such as houses, cars, bank accounts and valuables may come to mind first. Another asset you will want to claim your rights to is your spouse's retirement plan. You need to remember to consider not only your financial standing immediately after your divorce but also well into the future. That money would go to your benefit if you and your spouse were still married, and some of it still can even with the dissolution of your marriage. You can receive retirement benefits through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO is a type of domestic relations order from a court or other Florida authority that establishes your right to obtain payments from your spouse's retirement account. It can occur as part of the divorce proceedings or as a separate decree.

What does a QDRO do?

Besides recognizing your rights, a QDRO also outlines the payment details, such as how much you will receive and when. It may include multiple retirement plans, but each plan must make clear its distinct specifications. A QDRO also prevents you from having to pay taxes and other fees associated with the premature handling of retirement accounts.

What are the qualifications for a QDRO?

Your QDRO must contain the following information to be valid:

  • The retirement plans
  • Your name and mailing address
  • Your spouse's name and mailing address
  • The payment amount or equation to determine such
  • The quantity or length of payments you will receive

It must follow the provisions of the retirement plan and cannot require an increase of benefits or take away from payments of another QDRO.

How much will you receive?

Your payment amount depends on many factors, such as how long you were married and how much of the retirement your spouse earned during your marriage (this qualifies it as marital property). Another consideration is your financial contributions and circums tances, including any debts. The type of retirement plan your spouse has also determines how much you will receive and when.

How do you prepare a QDRO?

It is best to prepare a QDRO with the assistance of a Florida family law attorney to ensure you do it correctly and avoid issues and unnecessary costs. An attorney may also help you determine what other documents you may need to file and steps you may need to take to obtain your rightful retirement benefits and other assets to safeguard your financial future.

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