FAQ for Attorneys
We have complimentary language available for pension plans, 401(k)-type plans, military, federal plans, and state of Ohio pension plans. Click here to view. Keep in mind that the model agreements do not consider the facts of a particular case. We are glad to discuss the specifics of your case with you as you seek to craft an effective and safe Settlement Agreement.
All of our forms can be found here. Please complete the QDRO, Federal, Military or Present Value Request Form as applicable. The plan participant needs to sign an appropriate Authorization form so that we may approach the plan for information. Please be aware that STRS, Ohio Police & Fire, Highway Patrol and Vanguard require the original ink authorization form.
Please refer to our fee schedule for cost information on specific services.
We do provide a discount for multiple order drafting requests when they are applied to the same case and are requested at the same time. While the first order for a case is always the regular price, each subsequent order for the same case is discounted by $100. This discount applies only to order drafting requests and not to present value or other services.
Our turnaround time is 5-7 business days once we have all the necessary information to draft an order or present value. If we need to reach out to a plan administrator for information that time increases to as much as 6-8 weeks. That is why we ask that you provide as much information as possible including an “Account Statement” for defined contribution plans and an “Accrued Benefit Statement” for defined benefit plans. For more information on the process, please view our drafting process overview.
Offsets should be done only in situations where both parties understand, and are willing to accept, the risk of an inequitable division. That risk is lower when offsetting similar types of plans, but can be significant when offsetting a defined contribution plan (which is subject to market fluctuations) with a defined benefit plan (which is not). Sometimes, an offset cannot be avoided like in situations where a Social Security Offset is appropriate.
Social Security offsets are only applicable when one party has earned a retirement benefit through employment that does not pay social security taxes, such as a state of Ohio public employee, or someone who is a participant in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Simply put, the Social Security offset is used to reduce the percentage of the marital portion that is awarded to a former spouse for one of the applicable plans previously mentioned.
The offset is most often completed by having present values calculated on the government/state employee’s pension plan and offsetting against the present value of the spouse’s social security benefits. For an example of the calculation, click here.
We caution attorneys not to delay in filing QDROs. If either party dies before the QDRO is approved, there is a chance that the plan administrator may still allow the Alternate Payee (or his/her estate or beneficiary) to receive benefits but it is certainly not guaranteed. Even if the plan is willing to accept a QDRO, the process is likely be more complex and lengthy.
The Department of Labor has issued regulations on QDRO timing that relate to this. To avoid the risk, we recommend filing a QDRO at the time of the final hearing or as soon as possible afterwards.
If requested, and for an additional fee, we would be happy to send the QDRO to the plan administrator for pre-approval. However, you will be responsible for filing the Order with the appropriate court and submitting the court-executed QDRO to the plan administrator for final approval and administration. We will provide the appropriate contact information to assist you. Click here for a step-by-step guide of the entire QDRO drafting process.
FAQ for Parties in a Divorce
Many Divorce Decrees reference us by name and indicate that we are supposed to prepare documents to effectuate the division of retirement assets. However, just because our name is included does not mean that we are aware of what is required. Please have your attorney send us a completed request form along with a copy of the Decree, plan statements and our prepaid fee in order for us to get started.
We require an attorney to request our services. Our client is what we refer to as the “requesting attorney,” and it is the first attorney that submits the request form and meets our minimum retention requirements. The requesting attorney will be our point of contact throughout this process and will be the only person with whom we will discuss the specifics of the case.
Yes. At this time, due to uncertainty regarding certain state laws, we only offer our services to attorneys. If we determine in the future that we can offer these services directly to parties, we will update this FAQ accordingly.
Click here to view our drafting process overview. Please note that after the order has been drafted and sent to the requesting attorney, our company does not hear anything more about the QDRO unless contacted by the attorney. If you require additional information after this point in the process, please contact your attorney. You will be notified by the plan once the order has been approved.
Prepayment for our services can be made by either attorney or either party involved in the case. In the event that there is overpayment, a refund will be issued to our requesting attorney who will then be responsible for returning the money to each appropriate party. Payment may be made via check, money order, cash or on our website using our Make a Payment feature. If you are a party in a divorce, please make sure we have received a request, from an attorney, for our services before you submit payment.
If we have all the information we need to draft a QDRO, our part of the process will take 5-7 business days. If we are not provided with all the information we need, the process can be much longer – sometimes as much as 6-8 weeks. For more information on this topic, please see our drafting process overview.
To minimize this time, provide detailed plan information including account or benefit statements for each plan being divided. Even with complete plan information, there can be a delay if the provisions of the Agreement or Decree are vague. In these situations, we must rely on the requesting attorney to provide instructions for how the benefits are to be assigned. This often becomes a post-decree point of contention that can delay the preparation of a QDRO.
Based on our knowledge of the particular plan being divided, and the specific details of your case, sometimes we need to contact the Participant’s employer/company/recordkeeper to verify plan information and obtain account information. Doing so helps us prepare an order that will be considered acceptable to the plan administrator and streamlinesthe QDRO administration process. By taking time upfront, we try to save you time and money in the later stages of the QDRO process.
It depends. In general, 401(k)-type plans pay out as soon as administratively feasible after the QDRO is approved, and pension plans pay out when the Participant reaches retirement age.
However, the timing also depends on the Plan’s QDRO review period (typically 30- 60 days) and how quickly the drafting process happens. Click here to see an overview of our drafting process steps.
The method for determining the benefit amount is stated in your divorce decree/separation agreement. How much you will ultimately get depends on the method agreed upon. To discuss why a specific method was chosen, please contact an attorney.
Typically, the amount for a pension plan cannot be determined until close to the Alternate Payee’s commencement date. For a 401(k)-type plan, we can only determine a rough estimate if we have been provided account statements.