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How to divide retirement in a divorce

Divide Retirement Accounts

If you plan to divide your retirement accounts, the first step is to contact the plan administrator managing your retirement fund. Ask if they need a Final Decree or a QDRO or other specific order of division from the court. Some larger firms, like Vanguard, even have online instructions for the QDRO, so for these firms it will just be a matter of following the steps.

It's still pretty easy even if your firm doesn't have the full instructions posted online. If the plan administrator says they need a specific order, other than your final decree, then ask for a sample of the wording. One caution: DO NOT tell the plan administrator that you have a lawyer. Just ask for the wording.

If the plan administrator says they do not have a sample wording, then you can either write your own, or buy a QDRO service for about $300. A QDRO service will be faster. But the wording should be pretty simple if you'd like to write your own– it's usually only a few sentences identifying the parties, the plan name, and the amount to be transferred to the other party. You can write this up and send it to the plan administrator for approval. When you're ready, we will send a signed copy to the court with your other court forms.


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