One of the most inevitable steps in divorce is the division of assets. Any of your assets may be subject to division by a judge. Pensions and other retirement accounts can be considered marital assets. If you and your spouse agree to the terms of your asset division and have decided to divide a retirement account, you will need to take a few extra steps to do so. Retirement accounts are difficult to value and divide, unlike a cash account with an easily divisible balance. Retirement accounts are also subject to Federal regulations and require a special form to be legally divided pursuant to a divorce. This form is called the Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. QDROs are court orders that outline the terms and conditions of the division of the account, to include when and how the funds will be distributed. QDROs also allow all or a portion of the account value to be withdrawn to be transferred to the other spouse’s account tax-free and without the usual early withdrawal penalty. QDROs are unique court orders in that they require the approval of not only the court but the plan administrator as well. Each QDRO must be tailored to the specific account being divided and the details of the plan itself.

QDROs are very complex, and simple mistakes in filling them out can have costly ramifications. You may have seen offers for online do it yourself QDROs. These may seem like an affordable and easy way to draft a QDRO. Keep in mind; your retirement account may be one of your most valuable assets and thus should be divided carefully and with assistance. Consult with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator if you and your spouse need to divide a retirement account. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means you do not necessarily have to divide all your marital assets in half, but you must divide them fairly. A mediator can help you and your spouse negotiate the terms of a fair asset division and will let you know if your asset division will necessitate a QDRO filing. You should have help in filling out your QDRO to ensure it is legally enforceable. Otherwise the funds may not be transferable, or you may face penalties.

If you need to file a QDRO in your case, contact Mediation Advantage Services for experienced family law help. Law Office of Polly Tatum can assist you and your spouse with dividing retirement funds during mediation. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 466-4734, fill out our online form, or email us at today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.