There is no statute restricting the time frame for filing a QDRO; the pension is divided during the divorce so that the decree states the parties' respective ownership interest. The QDRO is to be prepared and signed by the court, then submitted to the plan administrator. Some people never get around to doing it, which means that the plan administrator pays the pension out to the employed spouse, and the other party never receives their money.
Will a domestic relations order fail to be a QDRO solely because of the timing of issuance?
No, not if it otherwise meets the QDRO requirements under ERISA. A domestic relations order issued after the participant's death, divorce, or annuity starting date, or subsequent to an existing QDRO, will not fail to be treated as a QDRO solely because of the timing of issuance. For example, a subsequent domestic relations order between the same parties which revises an earlier QDRO does not fail to be a QDRO solely because it was issued after the first QDRO. Likewise, a subsequent domestic relations order between different parties which directs a portion of the participant's previously unallocated benefits to a second alternate payee, does not fail to be a QDRO soley because of the existence of a previous QDRO. Further, a domestic relations order requiring a portion of a participant's annuity benefit payments be paid to an alternate payee does not fail to be a QDRO solely because the domestic relations order was issued after the annuity starting date.
Reference: 29 C.F.R. 2530.206; see section 1001 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, Pub. L. 109-280, 120 Stat. 780 (Aug. 17, 2006).
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.