For any divorce lawyer, the most important area of technical expertise is that of pension plans. Virtually all divorce lawyers understand the difference between the different types of pension plans – defined benefit and defined contribution plans. The critical issue is to realize that perhaps more than any other area, the drafting of a QDRO is an advocacy tool. The QDRO can be drafted to favor your client – or not.
Your key reading source to learn about QDROs should be Qualified Domestic Relations Order Handbook, Fourth Edition by Gary Shulman. This book goes into detail to provide you with an excellent handle regarding all in negotiating and drafting qualified domestic relations orders.
I have often heard of divorce lawyers who state, “I don’t do QDROs.” These lawyers look for some place to ship out QDROs. Now there are lawyers in Illinois whose entire practice is devoted to drafting QDROS. Often then focus on solving problems created by other lawyers who have poorly drafted QDROs or where the QDRO is not drafted at the time of the divorce.
This article provides a primer regarding important issues involved in drafting QDROs and contains up to date links including a discussion of the impact of 401(k) loans in the era of COVID-19.