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How does a QDRO work in a pension situation?

A QDRO would order the pension fund administrator to send pension checks to both the payee, your spouse, and to you, the former spouse. A QDRO cannot order that a pension check be written before your spouse is entitled to the pension. It also cannot change the amount of the pension. It merely facilitates the paying of the pension, or a portion of the pension to you.

It is common to attempt to offset the pension with another marital asset. By doing so, the spouse that would have received a portion of the pension at a later date, now receives an immediate pay-off. There is typically a financial sacrifice to receive this immediate pay-off, but it is very enticing to most due to the fact that he or she otherwise must wait until the pension is actually being paid out in order to receive their entitled portion.

If you do not have an asset or do not wish to offset the portion of the pension, you will have to have a QDRO drafted to defin what portions will be paid out and to whom at retirement time.