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When you and your spouse got married, the expectation may have been that both of you would benefit from his or her retirement plan. Now that you are getting divorced, you may wonder if you still stand to receive your allotted portion of your spouse’s pension.

A qualified domestic relations order either assigns you the right to receive benefits from your spouse’s retirement plan or affirms the right you already had. However, according to the Department of Labor, a QDRO has to meet certain requirements to be valid.

What must a QDRO not contain?

As a person who benefits from an ex-spouse’s retirement plan, you are an alternate payee. There are limitations as to who can be an alternate payee under a QDRO. Only children or dependents of the plan participant, a current spouse or former spouse can qualify. A QDRO must not designate anyone as an alternate payee who does not meet these criteria. The order cannot require a plan to provide for increased benefits nor any for option or benefit the plan does not otherwise provide.

What information must a QDRO include?

The QDRO must contain contact information for both you and your ex-spouse as the plan participant. This includes your name and address, as well as the name and last known address of your ex-spouse. Additionally, it must contain the specific benefit that you should receive, expressed as either a percentage or a dollar amount, as well as the time period over which the QDRO will continue or the number of payments you will receive. The QDRO should include the name of each plan to which it applies.