Attorney Dividing Retirement Benefits California Divorce | QDRO Lawyer

Do you need a lawyer to divide your retirement benefits in divorce

An attorney should be consulted with regard to treatment of a retirement asset. Retirement plans will often be the most valuable asset a couple has next to a house. Without proper treatment of retirement accounts, a court may not be able to enter a divorce judgment. This will result in frustration for the divorcing parties. Furthermore, mistreatment of plans may result in needless extra taxes.

The Law Offices of Keith F. Carr can help you prepare the proper paperwork in your divorce to divide your retirement benefits with your spouse. Without a lawyer, you will not know the qualifying paperwork to use and whether or not your retirement plan will need to be “joined” or added to your case.

Attorney Keith F. Carr can prepare your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to ensure that your 401k plan is properly divided.  A QDRO is necessary to divide your  401k in a divorce. Learn more about QDRO’s here…

Your attorney should draft a QDRO or review the QDRO drafted by the the retirement plan administrator to ensure the proper division of benefits. This can be an involved process.

What does a lawyer charge to divide retirement benefits in divorce court?

he Law Offices of Keith F. Carr charges an affordable fee for preparation of the necessary orders to divide your retirement benefits, including a QDRO. In most cases, we will charge a fixed fee. In more complex cases, we will charge an hourly fee to prepare or review your judgment or QDRO.

Will the court divide my Retirement Plan?

The short answer is yes. Under California divorce law, community property includes an interest or income accumulated in a 401(k), pension plan, government pension plan, or profit-sharing plan during the marriage. In addition, this will include stocks, stock option plans, and other marital property and debts. Learn more about stock option plans…

How Is A Retirement Plan Divided?

Dividing the community portion of retirement accounts will depend on the type of retirement plan involved.

Division of Property by Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) for 401ks

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order obtained in a California divorce court which affects retirement plans. These include plans that are subject to and meet ERISA guidelines. The types of plans generally include employer-sponsored retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, and pensions. They do not apply to all retirement plans.

When to join my retirement plan in the divorce proceeding?

To determine if your plan is required to be divided by QDRO, California provides a recommend a list of retirement accounts which should be added to the divorce and accounts which do not need to be. In other words, the retirement plan will need to be “joined” to the divorce proceeding. The plan becomes a party to the divorce proceeding and will have to file a response. Joining the plan is not usually adversarial in nature. It is an administrative requirement.

Cashing out your spouse’s community interest in your retirement

If the plan is not an ERISA qualified plan as above, the community portion of the retirement plan may be valued and replaced with another asset. This allows the retirement plan to remain with the employee spouse.

Cash Division of plans directly

The parties may agree to divide the asset, such as an IRA or other non-ERISA plan, directly. 


The Law Offices of Keith F. Carr charges an affordable fee to prepare or review your divorce orders to properly divide your retirement benefits and accounts.

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