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Rhode Island Divorce Orders for retirement and other special accounts via the Qualified Domestic Relations Order

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Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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The Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO") is a typical mechanism for distribution of retirement plans between spouses.  QDROS are special orders drafted with respect to the retirement, pension, annuity, 401k or other retirement plan vehicle.  These orders can, and generally are, very technical and detailed in nature when drafted correctly.

Contrary to what some legal practitioners think QDROs are not for the occasional practitioner, unless of course you want the future liability that goes with it.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are best drafted by those who are skilled in the practice of drafting such orders.  QDROs are typically drafted in conjunction with and consistent with the plan documents.  The "plan documents" are typically considered those documents that govern the administration of the particular investment or retirement plan/vehicle that is to be divided in your Rhode Island divorce proceeding.

QDROs are usually prepared after the trial or nominal proceeding in a divorce case.  It is recommended that the average Rhode Island lawyer who even routinely practices divorce law should avoid the drafting of QDROs if he or she does not regularly prepare them and is not aware of the substantial liabilities for improper drafting, failure to anticipate changes in federal laws, failure to address tax issues, failure to account for early retirement issues or for the distribution of the corpus that is the subject of the QDRO based upon the lifetime of the non-member spouse of the plan or retirement vehicle to be divided.

After months of experience endeavoring to conquer the legal intricacies of the QDRO in all its aspects, I have come to the conclusion that many other practitioners before me have already recommended.  The QDRO is a legal animal best left to those skilled in it's preparation.

When hiring a lawyer, ask about QDROs and the cost for their preparation and whether your divorce lawyer prepares them as part of your agreement.  Typically you can expect that this will be an extra expense in your divorce case that is paid to another attorney who specializes in the preparation of QDROs.   Clients should anticipate adding another $600 to $800 to their divorce costs if some form of retirement vehicle is to be divided by a QDRO.

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