Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are legal documents issued by a court or state agency that officially assign rights in an employee retirement plan to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. QDROs must be formulated to comply with specific federal laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
QDROs are a specific type of court order or agency decree made under state domestic-relations law that addresses child support, alimony or marital property rights. Under the terms of ERISA, an employee's interest in the value of a retirement plan cannot generally be assigned to another party, but in situations such as divorce or separation, rights may be assigned in order to divide marital property or satisfy support obligations. The administrator of a retirement plan cannot pay benefits to another party unless it receives a QDRO form. A QDRO does not need to be a separate document from a divorce decree. A domestic relations order is considered to be a QDRO as long as it meets the requirements set forth under the law, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
A QDRO must include the name and address of the retirement plan participant and each alternate payee, as well as the specific dollar amount or percentage to be paid to alternate payees, explains the Internal Revenue Service.