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The laws of the federal government prevail over most retirement plans. There are usually laws set up which allow the plans to receive special tax treatment, allowing contributions to go to the plan to be made before taxes are paid and also allowing the income on the money in the plan to build up without current tax consequences.
Upon a divorce, these types of retirement plans must be divided by a special order called a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” or QDRO. This order will determine how much of each payment should go to the spouse.
Be sure your divorce attorney is aware of how contributions are made to the plan so that he/she can adequately protect your rights with regard to what share of his retirement you're entitled to.