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QDROs: worth knowing and implementing for some ex-spouses

Jeff Landers is a columnist for Forbes magazine who often writes family law-related articles with a female audience in mind.

Although many men, too, face myriad and legitimate challenges during and after the divorce process, it is indisputable that matters such as the receipt of child support and spousal maintenance (alimony) are more typically the pressing concern of former female spouses. Their concerns and point of view are what Landers most commonly focuses upon.

Qualified domestic relations orders (yes, that is a mouthful) are a case in point. Landers recently addressed such orders (more commonly known by the acronym tag QDRO) in a recent article, noting their relevance to a number of post-divorce issues that can become contentious between former partners in Arkansas and elsewhere.

As Landers notes, many people do not know much about QDROS or the strong utility they can command in instances where an ex-husband tasked with support obligations is not complying with court-ordered payments.

Successive visits to court following divorce might ensure some level of performance from a recalcitrant ex-partner, but they might also bring about less than a fully satisfactory response.

A QDRO can change that.

In simplest terms, a QDRO is a court order that a judge can issue that results in the withdrawal of money from a former spouse’s retirement accounts. The money can be sent directly to a payee spouse’s bank account/s to settle divorce payment duties not being fully attended to by an ex-spouse.

There are a couple things to keep centrally in mind regarding QDROs.

First, a court order to automatically take funds from a former partner’s accounts only applies to company-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k) vehicles and company pension plans. Individual retirement accounts are beyond the reach of a QDRO.

Second, it is preferable for a divorcing spouse who anticipates problems down the road to fully address QDRO requirements and get the process in place during rather than after the divorce process. That can help avoid financial problems arising from an ex-spouse’s sudden failure to perform his court-ordered duties.

Source: Forbes, "How to get your ex-husband to honor the financial terms of your divorce settlement," Jeff Landers, Feb. 19, 2014

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