Christiansen Law, PLLC | QDRO

Flagstaff Qualified Domestic Relations Order Lawyer

Like many Americans, you have probably saved money for decades so that you can retire comfortably. With retirement accounts being one of the most significant assets in a divorce, the division of retirement accounts is a critical event.

After the court finalizes a divorce, Arizona law requires filing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) before distributing money from either spouse's retirement accounts. Typically, disputes over assets, including retirement accounts, are common in most divorce proceedings.

Understandably, divorce proceedings that include a QDRO are more complicated and may need the guidance of a Flagstaff Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) lawyer. At Christiansen Law, PLLC we are committed to helping you protect your assets through the professional and efficient handling of your QDRO.

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What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

A QDRO is a court order that gives an individual the right to share a retirement account. Most retirement plans require filing a QDRO before distributing a retirement account following a divorce decree in Arizona. Besides divorce cases, a QDRO may also be necessary in other family cases, including legal separations and child support lawsuits.

After the court issues a QDRO in Arizona, the retirement plan administrator will designate a portion of the plan’s assets to a spouse, former spouse, or dependent child.

It is vital to work with a skilled QDRO lawyer to avoid common distribution problems, including related penalties. The retirement assets that a QDRO may distribute include 401(k) accounts, pensions, deferred compensation plans, stock and bonds, and other types of retirement assets.

QDROs and Divorce in Arizona

As a community property state, Arizona considers all assets acquired during the marriage, including your retirement portfolio, as community property. Therefore, your spouse may have a claim to a portion of your retirement account or vice versa. Besides the family house, retirement accounts are a common source of disputes in a divorce.

Essentially, a QDRO ensures both the plan participant and alternate payee directly receives their rightful share or portion of the retirement assets. However, a QDRO also ensures that both parties are responsible for their respective tax liabilities.

A QDRO can also be a valuable alternative to "out of pocket" spousal maintenance or child support payments. For instance, a pension holder can use a QDRO to transfer a portion of their pension to a former spouse or dependent child instead of making direct payments.

Even where retirement is not on the horizon during a divorce, a QDRO can help avoid future issues, including financial insecurity for the plan participant and alternate payee.

Why You Need QDRO Lawyer

With most divorce settlements requiring a division of retirement accounts, you need a QDRO lawyer to guide you through the often-complex process. Typically, drafting a QDRO involves understanding laws and procedures controlling pensions and retirement while applying Arizona family law. For instance, a QDRO needs to comply with different federal and state laws.

State divorce courts should issue orders that are consistent with pension or retirement plan provisions. Besides the complex rules, QDROs also have to go through strict retirement plan reviews. A poorly drafted QDRO risks rejection by the often-skeptical attorneys that retirement plans employ to review QDROs.

Consequently, preparing QDROs may pose a challenge to divorce lawyers, hence needing an experienced QDRO lawyer. It is also common for divorce attorneys to outsource the handling of QDROs to experienced QDRO lawyers.

Preparing a QDRO without the necessary legal guidance is likely to lead to costly mistakes, considering the complex and technical nature of the process. Additionally, there is so much at stake in a divorce case that you should avoid errors at all costs. A skilled and experienced QDRO lawyer can help you avoid making these costly mistakes.

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Contact a Flagstaff Qualified Domestic Relations Order Lawyer

While divorcing spouses can always have an out-of-court agreement on the division of property, some assets, including retirement accounts, are difficult to distribute out-of-court. In most Arizona divorce cases, retirement accounts need a QDRO to distribute. However, QDROs are complex and technical instruments that many divorce lawyers will not handle. You need an experienced Flagstaff qualified domestic relations order lawyer. At Christiansen Law, PLLC, we have the skills and experience to prepare QDROs on different retirement accounts across Arizona. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, a free consultation, and learn more about our services.