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    A qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is an order made by a court or state agency that divides a retirement plan or pension plan between you and your ex­ spouse. These orders are made after a divorce has already been made final. A QDRO can also be issued to use funds from a retirement plan or pension plan to pay towards child or spousal support, for both past due and future payments.

    The distribution of payable benefits in a QDRO often depends on when each participant enrolled in the plan. If both participants enrolled before getting married, the funds are often evenly divided than when one joined later.

    In Pensacola and other cities in Florida, the benefits granted to a beneficiary in a QDRO must be the same as those outlined in the final judgment of dissolution. This order cannot be used to grant more benefits to an ex­spouse or child other than what has been previously agreed on in the settlement agreement.

    Moreover, not all retirement plans and pension plans are subject to qualified domestic relations orders. Only plans that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) can be divided according to a QDRO.

    Many QDROs are written to benefit one person in a divorce case, resulting in unfair divisions of retirement or pension plans that favor one person over the other. This happens because some lawyers are not familiar with the complexity of QDROs and allow the other party to hire their own QDRO drafter, which is a mistake. Using a sample QDRO provided by an employer is also a mistake, since they usually benefit the employer.

    For more information on QDROs in Pensacola, contact us as we are experts on qualified domestic relations orders.