I have been doing family and tax law for a damn long time, and I haven't a clue what this QDRO lawyer is talking about. You mentioned the term "support," which makes me think that there is some tie-in to alimony
. That is, because the amount of your distribution rights in your spouse's retirement plan may be so large, that the court would be unlikely to make a large spousal support award.
However, even if this were the rationale, it would not explain why the term, "qualified" would have anything to do with the issue. Any employer plan which requires a QDRO as a means of dividing benefits between spouses, is, by definition a "qualified" ERISA retirement plan. Otherwise, there would be no need for a QDRO, because ERISA-qualified plans cannot be divided without a QDRO, and non-ERISA qualified plans, are not covered by federal law, so, a QDRO would be legally meaningless. See 26 U.S.C. 414(p)
for the requirements of a QDRO under federal law.
The point of my little monologue is that whether or not the order describes the retirement plan as qualified, a QDRO is qualified by definition. It cannot be otherwise.
If you are not really a spouse, due to some defect in your original marriage (e.g., bigamy: spouse was already married to someone else when you were supposedly married) then that could be relevant, because you would not be a spouse under the federal law definition. So, it would be incorrect to call you a qualified alternative payee for the purposes of a QDRO. However, here again, the QDRO cannot be used to order benefits in favor of a person who is not qualified to receive them -- so, I don't know why there would be an emphasis on the use of the term, "qualified."
I'm afraid that I'm stumped here. And, I'll bet if I am, then practically every other family law
attorney in the USA would be similarly puzzled. So, I would suggest that you contact this lawyer can try to get a complete explanation of what he/she is referring to -- because from my admittedly very distant vantage point -- this issue makes no sense whatsoever.
Please let me know if my answer is helpful. Thanks!