If you are in the process of getting divorced, you may be curious about what a qualified domestic relations order is and who should be responsible for preparing this for you. Loss of control on money frequently happens in these situations because pension division orders and retirement orders are frequently misunderstood even by knowledgeable divorce attorneys. It is essential to understand the benefits of bringing in a QDRO expert to help review this document. There are many individuals out there who claim to be a qualified domestic relations order professional, consultant or expert but you can figure out relatively quickly that they do not know much more than you or your divorce attorney. Here are a couple of red flags to look out for if you are interested in hiring a qualified domestic relations order expert.
Experience with plans
It is imperative that you ask about the understanding of practical operation and tax laws that will influence your retirement plans. It is something to be suspicious of if you cannot determine that this person has enough experience working on retirement plan matters other than QDROs. This is why you may wish to hire a financial professional who provides advice and assistance to individuals in the process of a divorce in general. If the only piece of accomplishment that they cling on to is the number of QDROs they have worked on, this could be problematic. Make sure you get a full picture of their background first.
You may wish to work with a QDRO expert who also has academic credentials. These individuals likely have some kind of professional experience in addition to their education that makes them a good fit to be a QDRO expert.
Use of Model QDROs
Your QDRO expert should never rely on model qualified domestic relations orders when putting together your document. It is imperative that he or she pays attention to the unique details of your particular document and understands that a model QDRO can actually do far more harm than good. Unfortunately many divorce attorneys still rely on model QDROs today.
Conflict of Interest
Each party needs to have their own QDRO expert as well as attorney review this document in full or to review the QDRO that has been prepared by the other spouse’s attorney. Make sure that you have someone who is looking out for your interest. It is not a good idea to use someone who was hired by your former spouse.
What to Look for in a QDRO Expert?
Make sure that you work with someone who has practiced long enough in this particular field to be knowledgeable about what should and shouldn’t be included in a QDRO. You don’t necessarily need to have a locally based QDRO expert because federal law is actually what governs the majority of retirement plans associated with a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO expert can typically write or review QDROs for anyone located anywhere in the country. Make sure that the individual also has a great deal of experience working specifically with retirement plans. This means the principles, laws, regulations and practical operation and all of these can be influential in putting together a comprehensive qualified domestic relations order. Make sure you do your research and speak with this individual before bringing him or her in. The division of retirement assets can be one of the most influential in your divorce and it also sets the tone for your life for many years to come. You need someone who is knowledgeable about all aspects of qualified domestic relations orders but also someone who is committed to looking out for your best interest. You want someone who can catch possible mistakes or problems in the QDRO well before it is sent on to the plan administrator or to the judge. Having this information now can be extremely beneficial for you in the future.