In any divorce, dividing assets is one of the most significant issues a couple will face. Retirement assets pose a particular challenge. To resolve this, many couples look into creating a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO.

If you are considering a divorce, you might have heard of QDROs—and you might be wondering whether your divorce will involve one. In this post, we will discuss these documents in detail and tell you what to expect regarding them.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO is a court order that addresses what will happen to retirement assets in a divorce. The QDRO can allow other people to receive some of a spouse’s retirement benefits after a divorce. The alternate beneficiary—say, the other spouse—can receive money from the account. QDROs are common in divorces that involve child support and alimony, as the court can allocate monthly support stipends from the retirement accounts.

Will I have a QDRO?

Because New York is an equitable property state, any assets that spouses acquire after the marriage, excluding inheritances and gifts, are eligible for division in a divorce. This includes retirement accounts. If you and your spouse have retirement assets that you acquired after marriage, then you may well have to divide them equitably before you split.

However, every divorce is different, as is every property division settlement. The division of assets is, as we mentioned, incredibly complicated. The only way to determine whether you need a QDRO is to discuss your situation with a divorce attorney. Your future financial situation will depend on how you, your lawyer, your spouse and the court decide to handle your retirement benefits.