In any divorce case in which a party has retirement accounts, the court will usually divide such accounts in the same way that it divides other marital property. However, unlike the division of other property, after the court divides retirement accounts, more work must be done. The parties must subsequently prepare separate orders that put such division into effect.
For legal reasons, financial institutions will not cooperate with the division of retirement accounts without a court order. For example, even if a divorce decree states that “Wife shall give Husband half of her 401k”, the financial company that handles such 401k will disregard such division unless it receives a separate court order. Such a court order is usually called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO (pronounced “qua-dro”). The order may also be called a Court Order Acceptable for Processing. For any such order, the process is similar. After the court enters a divorce decree that divides the accounts, the parties are responsible for drafting any necessary orders that put the division into effect. After the parties draft such orders, the court will sign them, and the parties must then serve them upon the financial institutions, which will then divide the retirement accounts accordingly.
QDRO’s and other retirement orders are legally technical documents. Drafting them properly, obtaining the court’s signature, and serving them upon the proper financial institution requires a substantial amount of work and organization. An experienced divorce attorney is usually necessary. Choosing to undertake such process without an attorney is risky because there is a likelihood that the order will be deficient. Such a choice may result in the process taking much longer than otherwise. If you require the drafting of a QDRO or similar retirement order, you should definitely have a trusted attorney on your side who can help you.
Patrick is not like other QDRO attorneys. Patrick has a boutique legal practice in which he provides high quality service to a small number of clients. His practice is small, and that is how he likes it. He is the only attorney in his office. Having a small practice allows Patrick to provide a highly personalized service in which he gets to know each client and delivers representation that is tailored to achieve that client’s unique goals. He has spent the last 14 years handling divorce cases, many of which involved the division of retirement assets. He is aggressive while also being careful to avoid wasteful efforts and strategies that usually serve only to increase the client’s legal fees. Patrick directs his efforts in a focused and intelligent way on things that are most important to the client and that are calculated to bring results. He invites his clients to participate meaningfully in setting the case direction, he is friendly, and he is responsive.