QDRO Drafting Strategies and Divorce Judgments

Avoiding Pitfalls That Result in Unintended Loss of Retirement Plan Benefits

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will prepare family law attorneys to identify common mistakes and issues that arise in drafting judgments of divorce/dissolution and qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). The panel will outline practical solutions to prevent and alleviate errors.


Retirement savings represent the bulk of many clients' assets. So, dividing retirement accounts is one of the most important aspects of divorce settlements. Mistakes in drafting a judgment of divorce/dissolution and drafting a QDRO are common.

Frequent errors, which can result in loss of benefits to the nonmember spouse, include failing to recognize survivor benefit issues, failing to know the difference in dividing an ERISA plan vs. a federal government plan for a federal employee, and failing to understand how to correcly divide the marital interest (coverture fraction vs. other options).

Considering the prevalence of pitfalls, the potential impact of errors, and the high likelihood that divorce actions will involve a QDRO, practitioners must anticipate and avoid mistakes in drafting the judgment of divorce/dissolution and the QDRO.

Listen as our panel of experienced attorneys who specialize in QDRO division discusses best practices for drafting and structuring judgments of divorce/dissolution and QDROs, and offers practical solutions to prevent the most prevalent errors.



  1. QDRO overview
  2. Most important concepts to understand when drafting the pension division section in judgments of dissolution/divorce and QDROs
    1. How to correctly identify the plan or plans
    2. Defined contribution plans: what is it and the best way to divide it
    3. Defined benefit plans: what is it and the best way to divide it
    4. Survivor benefits: how do you ensure that, to the extent payable from the plan, the nonmember spouse receives a survivor benefit
  3. Defined benefit and contribution plans
    1. Plan rules
    2. Plan interpretation
    3. Federal government plan or ERISA plan
    4. Status of participant
    5. How judgment of divorce/dissolution is drafted


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the most common drafting errors in settlement agreements/judgments of divorce/dissolution relating to QDROs?
  • What pension discovery information should be requested and reviewed prior to drafting or reviewing a judgment of divorce/dissolution or a QDRO?
  • Should you trust a plan's QDRO sample language?
  • Can you divide an IRA with a domestic relations order?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Louise Nixon
Louise Nixon

QDRO Counsel

Ms. Nixon practice focuses on retirement benefits, specifically determining the community or marital interest in...  |  Read More

Lundy, Matthew L.
Matthew L. Lundy, Esq.

Matthew Lundy Law - QDRO Law

Mr. Lundy is one of the most well-known and well-respected QDRO attorneys in the country. He has a great deal of...  |  Read More

Darren J. Goodman
Darren J. Goodman

Goodman QDRO Law Group

Mr. Goodman’s law practice was founded in 1997, to assist individuals with the division of retirement plan assets...  |  Read More

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