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What is a qualified domestic relations order?

One of the assets most often overlooked by divorcing couples in San Antonio is retirement benefits. If your spouse has a retirement account, he or she may feel since such a benefit was provided by means of his or her employment, it is not considered to be community property. However, any benefits accrued by that plan during the time that you were married are indeed deemed to be marital property and thus subject to property division. In such cases, the court will issue a domestic relations order mandating your receipt of your portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits. Your eligibility to receive that portion may not be official, however, until the retirement plan administrator determines if that order meets the criteria of being a qualified domestic relations order.

Texas law defines a QDRO as a domestic relations order that recognizes your right to receive and details the dispersal to you of all or a portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits provided through a public retirement system. The law defines the following as being public retirement systems:

  •          The Employees Retirement System of Texas
  •          The Judicial Retirement Systems of Texas (Plan One and Plan Two)
  •          The Teacher Retirement System of Texas
  •          The Texas County and District Retirement System
  •          The Texas Municipal Retirement System
  •          Any other retirement or death benefit programs for officers or employees of the state

The be considered a QDRO, a domestic relations order must clearly state yours and your ex-spouse’s address and Social Security numbers, as well as the amount of retirement benefits owed to you. It must also qualify the plan as a designated public retirement system and state the number of payment to which the order applies. It also cannot require the plan to provide any benefits not in line with its rules and regulations.  

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