Atlas Document Preparation Services

Legal Services Overview

Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A QDRO is commonly called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is an order of the court that recognizes the right of a spouse or former spouse or child to all or part of pensions or retirement accounts. It may be ordered as part of a property settlement or to pay back child support or back spousal support.

There are advantages to getting the QDRO filed with the court and signed by a judge at the same time or as soon as possible to the signing of the judgment. The plan participant may be more cooperative during this time. More choices of benefits may be available prior to retirement. Some benefits may not be recovered once received by a retiree. Some plans absorb the benefits after a participant’s death.

It is a good idea to get the QDRO signed and approved by the plan as a precaution against the plan participant’s sudden death.

QDROs are governed by these six rules:

  1. ERISA – Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
  2. The code – the Internal Revenue Code.
  3. Federal regulations.
  4. State laws.
  5. Judicial case law (both state and federal).
  6. The rules and regulations of the plan itself.

A QDRO must meet certain requirements of the plan and of the court. We make sure your QDRO package contains all mandatory provisions.


A joinder is a set of documents that are filed during a divorce proceeding or immediately thereafter, making a retirement or pension plan a party to the court case. The court requires that some plans be “joined” to the case. This allows the plan administrator to become aware of the proceeding and be given an opportunity to bring any important information to the case. The joinder must be served on the plan administrator who must respond within thirty days. The joinder must be completed before a QDRO will be processed.