QDROs Just Got Simple!

Additional Services

QDROCounsel offers more than just the ability draft your own QDROs! Check out additional services below which further enhances what you can offer your clients!


Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO

Do you usually retain a neutral QDRO professional to prepare the QDROs and want to keep handling QDROs that way?  We’ve got that covered too!  We have a “Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO” system so both sides will have the opportunity to either draft or review the QDRO directly from our system which defaults to a QDRO division that is equitable and fair.

How does this work?

The Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO feature provides attorneys peace of mind knowing that the QDRO prepared reflects the appropriate division and that one attorney is not trying to draft the QDRO for their client’s advantage. Note that the QDRO must also always comply with federal law regardless of state law or the parties’ agreement.

The Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO feature allow one attorney to draft the QDRO with prompts to reflect the most common division in your state for the applicable type of plan.  If the parties have agreed to a different award, the feature can still be used and although the award will be different the remainder of the QDRO is drafted with the neutral default paragraphs. The completed QDRO is then emailed from QDROCounsel to both attorneys at the same time to ensure no alteration or manipulation occurs.

On the last page of the email attachment, you will find a summary page which will list the following: (1) the questions asked to the drafting attorney; (2) the drafting attorney’s responses to the questions; and (3) the default responses based on state and federal law. The attorney reviewing the drafting attorney’s responses will be able to evaluate them to make sure they conform to the understanding of the parties.  Both attorneys will also have access to our explanations of substantive paragraphs in the QDRO which is helpful in explaining the QDRO to their respective clients.

Note that depending on your subscriber level, the Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO may be an additional cost. Take a look at our Membership page to make sure your subscription includes the Joint & Neutral Processed QDRO feature!

Judgment Language

QDROCounsel provides you with language you can tailor to appropriately provide for the division of retirement benefits in the judgment.  With QDROCounsel sample judgment language you will be able to properly state how the retirement benefits are to be divided.

How does this work?

It is critical to make sure that your judgment language not only properly reflect the terms of the divorce but also that the division contemplated in the judgment does NOT conflict with plan terms or the laws governing the retirement plans.  In some cases, failure to properly state the award in a judgment can result in a loss of survivor benefits for the alternate payee.

If the plan is a defined benefit plan, you may want to mention the division should be divided as a martial fraction.  For a defined contribution plan, you may want to make sure earnings and/or losses are properly awarded or allocate any loans appropriately.  If you are offsetting retirement plans, then certain offset language may apply.  What about IRAs?  It is important to properly divide the IRA in the judgment so there are not issues in transferring assets IRA to IRA.  For all plans, you will want to properly award survivor benefits.

QDROCounsel provides sample paragraphs for a variety of division scenarios.  With the help of QDROCounsel’s judgment language, you will be able to craft judgment language appropriate for your case.

Comprehensive Plan Database (155k+)

At least half of the divorce judgments that QDRO experts review either have omitted retirement plans or have incorrectly identified retirement plans.  With QDROCounsel Membership you now have access to a searchable database to ensure you have identified all applicable retirement plans.

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Our database includes corporate information on over 155,000 qualified defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans that are governed by federal law (“Employee Retirement Income Security Act” commonly referred to as “ERISA”).  With this information at your fingertips, you can easily search the database by employer and be provided with a complete list of all retirement plans offered by that employer with contact information.  The database also includes nonqualified retirement plans (not governed by ERISA) which are offered to highly paid executives.

Who reviews and processes the QDROs?  QDROs can be reviewed and administered by (1) benefits departments of the employer; (2) outside legal counsel; or (3) third party administrators like Fidelity Investments or AON Hewitt.  The review and processing often moves between these three entities.  With our staff and also feedback from the QDROCounsel community, QDROCounsel is committed to providing the most up to date information regarding QDRO administration for each employer.  Our plan database is constantly being updated.

Automated Joinder Pleadings (CA)

With QDROCounsel’s automated joinder pleadings, you or your staff can easily and quickly draft, file and serve joinder pleadings.

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Exclusive to California, “joinder” is a legal process that joins retirement plans to the divorce action as a third party.  Joinder pleadings notify the retirement plan that a former spouse has a right to a portion of a participant’s retirement benefits and in many cases places a hold on that retirement plan pending receipt of a QDRO.  A hold will typically mean that a participant cannot take any loans or distributions or retire and begin receiving benefit payments until the hold is lifted by the plan administrator.  Therefore, joinders are very effective in ensuring that retirement assets remain frozen until a divorce is completed and a court order regarding the division of those benefits is entered with the court.

With QDROCounsel Membership you will be able to determine if joinders are required, or recommended to preserve your client’s interest.  With QDROCounsel you will be able to (1) determine the correct plan name and contact information; (2) prepare the joinder pleadings in minutes with our automated system; and (3) be provided with detailed information on how and where to serve the joinders pleadings.

California Public Plans

Is your client a public employee of a state city or county of California?  QDROCounsel is your resource for the division of these public plans. 

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The most common California plans are the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).  We have automated the drafting of the domestic relations orders dividing these retirement plans.   For active employees, there are two different ways to divide CalPERS and CalSTRS benefits.  QDROCounsel’s valuations tools include a feature that provides estimates of the nonmember’s marital interest for both ways to divide.

With QDROCounsel Membership, you will have access to detailed explanations that will help answer your and your clients’ questions regarding how best to divide these public retirement plans.  The explanations will also include information on various nuances in the law regarding the public plans which will be helpful in explaining the division to your clients.

Military and Federal Employee Division Orders

The division of retirement plans for military and federal employees is not governed by ERISA, but by another set of federal laws.  QDROCounsel will help you understand what you need to know to divide these retirement benefits.

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With QDROCounsel Membership you will be able to draft division orders for the most common situations that arise when dividing these benefits. Additionally, for military members QDROCounsel will help you properly complete the required forms

QDROCounsel provides detailed explanations on substantive paragraphs to make sure you understand the terminology and its significance, but will also help you be able to explain these terms to your clients.

If you have further questions, you can always submit your questions to our community forum and receive a response from a national expert on the division of these plans.  You can also contact customer support when you get stumped to get the help you need!

IRA Division Orders

Parties do not need a QDRO to transfer funds IRA to IRA in their divorce pursuant to Internal Revenue Code § 408(d)(6).  However, when the divorce judgment does not provide a clear enough description of the transfer, a domestic relations order may be necessary.

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Some custodians for SEP-IRAs will require a separate order which also meets the requirements of both the Internal Revenue Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Whether dividing the IRA in the Judgment or by separate court order, we can help you. With QDROCounsel Membership you have access to sample judgment language providing for the division of IRAs.  And if a separate order is still necessary, you can use this site to generate an IRC § 408 Domestic Relations Order. 

Fidelity QDRO Information & Support

However, Fidelity’s system can be difficult to navigate if you do not understand the implications of electing certain options.  Further, Fidelity’s system sometimes does not provide every option available under some retirement plans.  We have experience in knowing what can be modified and what cannot change without the QDRO being rejected.  QDROCounsel offers the expertise and support you need to draft a QDRO with Fidelity with confidence.

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Fidelity’s system can be difficult to navigate if you do not understand the implications of electing certain options.  Further, Fidelity’s system sometimes does not provide every option available under some retirement plans.  We have experience in knowing what can be modified and what cannot change without the QDRO being rejected.  QDROCounsel offers the expertise and support you need to draft a QDRO with Fidelity with confidence.

Non-Qualified Plans

Some companies offer their highly compensated employees nonqualified retirement plans that can either be a defined contribution or defined benefit plan, or both.  Nonqualified plans usually cannot be divided with a domestic relations order.

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QDROCounsel can help you identify whether nonqualified plans exist in your case and when appropriate divide the plan with a domestic relations order.  If these retirement plans cannot be divided with a domestic relations order, QDROCounsel’s valuation and equalization and offset tools can assist you in dividing the marital interest.

If you believe that there are nonqualified plans in your case and that plan is not in our database, please contact us.  We will assist you in identifying the nonqualified plan.  If additional legal advice is needed, we will refer you to our network of nonqualified plan experts.

Education – CLE, Articles & More

We are leveraging the over 100 years of combined knowledge and experience of QDROCounsel experts to create a menu of helpful, customized, clear and concise educational courses.