How Long After Divorce Can You File a QDRO?

Is there a time limit on filing a QDRO? Ideally, it should happen during your divorce as part of the mountains of the paperwork that must be filed. But if you don’t file a QDRO during your divorce,  can you still file one afterward? The answer varies from state to state and plan to plan.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO is a document that refers to any defined contribution or defined benefit plan that is subject to ERISA, that was earned during the marriage by one spouse. The participating spouse (member) lists their spouse as their beneficiary on their employment paperwork, which they file when starting a retirement account with their employer. This person receives the payout in case the member passes before they can receive it. 

Community Property State Requirements

Understandably, the member spouse doesn’t want to keep their former spouse on their retirement benefits as the beneficiary, and they are able to change that designation with the company administering their pension. However, most states see the pension earned during the marriage period as property that needs to be divided. In order to effectuate the division of these funds, a QDRO must be filed.

Nevada is a community property state, and ideally, the QDRO would be filed during the divorce and the payout for a defined contribution plan would be granted shortly thereafter. Can you still file a QDRO after a divorce?

Is There a Time Limit to File a QDRO?

This is dependent on the Plan.  In most cases a post-divorce QDRO is still effective but you could run into problems such as the death of the member or the alternate payee.  Some plans will not allow a post-death division of a pension.  The rule of thumb is to file any pension division orders as close to the date of divorce as possible.

What Does a QDRO Mean for Your Divorce?

A QDRO simply effectuates the division of the pension that was granted in the divorce decree. Nevada is a community property state, so all property is equally divided unless there are specific findings as to why an unequal division is appropriate.  This applies to all retirement accounts as well. A QDRO is still required directing the plan to pay the alternate payee their share of the pension.

A QDRO is important to file so that the former spouse receives the benefits from the retirement account as they are entitled. They do typically come up during a divorce as the spouses are accounting for their property and determining how things will be divided. If you didn’t file one during your divorce, however, get one filed as soon as possible afterward.

Can I Write My Own QDRO?

The answer, technically, is yes, you can. The better answer is that you can, but you probably shouldn’t unless you are a family law attorney.

Can You File a QDRO Without an Attorney?

The QDRO is a complex legal document that is best written and submitted to the court by your attorney. While you legally do not need an attorney to file a QDRO, like most things in family law, an attorney will make sure that it’s done correctly and without errors. Without the benefit of being written by a qualified attorney, your QDRO may be rejected by the court or by the plan. There are many lucrative offers on the Internet offering QDROs for very little or even free, but it takes the practiced hand and expertise of a family law attorney to make sure it is completed correctly. There are extremely specific requirements for what a QDRO must contain, and a seasoned family lawyer specializing in pension division can make sure that yours is error-free and becomes accepted by the court.

As in many states, domestic relations law in Nevada is highly complex. It takes many years of schooling and training to work with the best in family law practices. That’s why, when you entrust QDRO Masters with your divorce, we’ll make sure that no stone is left unturned and you don’t have to worry about considerations such as whether or not your QDRO includes the needed provisions. 

Trust the QDRO Masters for Your Divorce

It can be difficult to manage all of the pieces of legal documents, forms, and information you need to file for divorce in Nevada, especially when already going through a stressful and emotional time. Trust the family law attorneys at QDRO Masters at the Willick Law Group to represent you with the utmost respect and accountability. We’ll always work our hardest for you.

Marshal S. Willick, Esq.