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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
1 Carriage Lane
Building I, Suite 202
Charleston, SC 29407
The QDRO process can take anywhere from one month to over one year to complete, depending on the facts of the particular case and the Plan. As an attorney, the first, most important step is for you to gather all plan documents for each and every retirement asset involved in your case, both for your client and the other party. You can send a simple letter to the Plan Administrator at the beginning of your case requesting: (1) Summary Plan Description, (2) Written QDRO Procedures, (3) QDRO Model Language, and (4) recent benefit statements of the Participant. This information will be helpful in understanding the benefits available and how they can be divided. It is very important, before you finalize any Agreement, to determine if the retirement plan allows for lump-sum distributions or any distributions whatsoever prior to the Participant's retirement. Most Agreements are negotiated with one spouse thinking they will have immediate access to assets, which is not always the case when dealing with retirement assets.
When drafting your Agreement and/or Court Order, it is very important to include or address certain issues. It is also important to be specific, but not overly specific (if that makes any sense). Here are some tips to think about when drafting your Agreement/Order:
(a) is Alternate Payee treated as surviving spouse for QPSA?
(b) for federal civil service plans (FERS/CSRS) is Alternate Payee entitled to FSSA?
(c) for military pension, is Alternate Payee (former spouse) entitled to SBP?
** Failure to expressly provide for survivor benefits for your Alternate Payee clients at trial or in a stipulation or separation agreement can be fatal to your ability to include them in a subsequent QDRO if the Participant or his/her lawyer objects.
If you have any questions about what to include in your Agreement or Final Order, feel free to contact us!
QDRO Professionals, LLC
1 Carriage Lane, Building I, Suite 202, Charleston, SC 29407
(p) 843-779-5664 (f) 864-673-0283