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Filing A QDRO During A Georgia Divorce


During a divorce, property division is one of the most hotly debated points of concern. However, certain assets cannot be divided simply by agreement. Instruments like retirement plans must be dealt with by filing a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) with the appropriate people, but it is very easy to make mistakes if you do not have the help of an experienced legal professional.

Dividing Marital Property Can Be Complex

Georgia divides marital property according to the theory of equitable distribution, meaning that assets are divided between the spouses in the most equitable (not equal) way possible. Once an asset has been determined to be marital property, it can be apportioned by the court after weighing an assorted list of factors. Examples include length of the marriage, contributions to the marriage overall and to the family unit, and the needs of each spouse, among many others. Assets like family heirlooms, vehicles, real property and pets can be divided in this manner.

Asset division can be low-maintenance, or it can be a long drawn-out battle. This may depend on the ability of the spouses to work together, but also on the specific facts of the case. In Georgia, the behavior of each spouse during the divorce process can be used as a factor if the court needs to divide property between the spouses – if a spouse is caught hiding assets, for example, the court can react accordingly by awarding that spouse a smaller proportion of the marital assets to balance things out.

A QDRO Gives Access

Other assets require a more complex manner of division – more specifically, pensions and other retirement instruments. These require a QDRO, or they cannot be effectively divided, because other laws govern these instruments that cannot be overturned by a divorce decree or other agreement. For example, most 401(k)s cannot be simply divided by a court; they are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A QDRO gives a plan administrator the authority to divide the funds, but without one, ERISA would mandate that no division happen.

A QDRO establishes the existence of what is called an alternate payee – usually a person’s ex-spouse – who is eligible to receive a part of the proceeds from a retirement account. A qualified attorney will draft the agreement, providing the relevant information needed to grant the plan administrator permission to divert part of the funds in the account to that alternate payee. Tax considerations are often paramount as well; in many retirement instruments, withdrawal of funds before a certain point can lead to a big tax bill if not handled properly.

Call An Atlanta Divorce Lawyer Today

QDROs are legal documents that should be completed by a legal professional, so as to ensure that every I is dotted and every T is crossed. If you have questions or concerns about a QDRO in your divorce case, contacting the Atlanta divorce attorneys at Buckhead Family Law are happy to try and assist. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.


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