How To Get a QDRO Signed By a Judge in 8 Steps

A QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a court order that indicates how the couple will distribute their retirement assets. Getting a QDRO is a simple process, but it’s essential not to overlook this step when dividing assets after a divorce.

How To Get a QDRO Signed By a Judge in 8 Steps

Are you wondering how to get a QDRO signed by a judge? All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Gather information
  2. Draft your QDRO
  3. Obtain spousal approval
  4. Get plan administrator approval
  5. Have all parties sign the QDRO
  6. Present to the judge of the State Divorce Court
  7. Obtain a certified copy of the QDRO
  8. Send a certified copy to the plan administrator for final approval

Gather Information

Who is responsible for filing a QDRO? The party who will receive payments from the retirement account should file this document. If you’re the alternate payee and your former spouse is the plan holder, you must file this document.

Before you file a QDRO and look into how to get a QDRO signed by a judge, you’ll need to gather some information about the parties involved and the plan you need to divide.

You should have the name, address, and date of birth of both spouses. You’ll also need social security numbers and the dates of your marriage and divorce. You’ll need to bring a copy of your divorce decree and divorce settlement agreement if applicable.

You will also need some information about the plan you’re dividing. Go over the plan documentation to find the plan description and the QDRO procedures, or contact your plan administrator to get these documents. Check your plan balance to get a better idea of the assets available.

Draft Your QDRO

What is a QDRO? A QDRO is a document that outlines how the plan administrator should split retirement assets after a divorce. Your draft should reflect how you want to divide these assets.

Can I do a QDRO without an attorney? The answer is yes. If you decide to file this document without getting help from a legal representative, you’ll have to draft this document yourself. Here’s what you should include:

  • Name and address of both spouses.
  • The amount the alternate payee will receive. You can indicate this amount as a percentage of the plan balance or as a sum.
  • You need to include an explanation of how you determined this amount.
  • Indicate the time frame for issuing the funds to the alternate payee, as well as the number of payments they will receive.
  • Your draft should include additional provisions if applicable, for instance, to explain that the funds will go towards child support or alimony.

Obtain Spousal Approval

Does QDRO need to be signed by both parties? The answer is yes. A QDRO is an agreement between you and your former spouse.

You’ll have to show the draft to your former spouse or legal representative and get their approval. Now is the best time to discuss alternatives if your former spouse disagrees with your draft.

Get Plan Administrator Approval

Unless you’re splitting up a civil service or military pension, you’ll need to get a pre-approval from the plan administrator before you can present your QDRO to a judge.

Send your QDRO to your plan administrator so they can review the document and request changes if needed. The plan administrator will determine whether the terms of your QDRO correspond to their policies.

Have All Parties Sign the QDRO

The next step is to get everyone to sign the document. You, your former spouse, and the plan administrator should sign the document.

If your former spouse is not cooperative and refuses to sign the document, you can still file the QDRO without their signature. The judge will review your case and can still decide to enact the QDRO without the signature of your former spouse.

Present To Judge of the State Divorce Court

You can then file the QDRO with the court that is overseeing your divorce. A judge will go over the draft and determine whether the document divides retirement assets fairly. If the judge approves your QDRO, the court clerk will file the document, and it will go into effect.

Obtain a Certified Copy of the QDRO

You’ll have to visit the courthouse in person and get a certified copy of your QDRO or order one by mail. You’ll need a certified copy for the plan administrator to divide the assets.

Send a Certified Copy to the Plan Administrator For Final Approval

The last step you need to take is to send a certified copy of your QDRO to the plan administrator. The plan administrator will then follow the QDRO’s instructions and start issuing payments to the alternate payee.

How Long Does the QDRO Process Take?

It depends on your situation, but it often takes a few months to process a QDRO. This process will last longer if your spouse isn’t cooperating or if the plan administrator asks you to make changes to your draft.

You can typically expedite things by hiring a legal representative. An attorney will be able to go over the QDRO policies for your retirement plan and draft a document that meets any existing requirements. They will also help you draft a document that complies with IRS rules.

How long does it take to get QDRO money? It depends on your plan administrator and the time frame you established when drafting your QDRO. In most cases, alternate payees start receiving payments within four to six weeks.

How much does a QDRO cost? The cost of filing a QDRO can vary a lot depending on whether you get help from an attorney. You might also have to pay a fee with your plan administrator and a smaller filing fee with the court.


Now that you know more about how to get a QDRO signed by a judge, you can start gathering the information you’ll need to draft this document. You should also think about getting help from a lawyer to speed up this process or negotiate with the plan holder if they’re not cooperative. Skyview Law can assist you with step-by-step instructions on filing the QDRO.