What is QDRO?

QDRO is short for qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is an order issued by the court that recognizes the right for an “alternate payee” to receive a specified portion of the benefits payable to the participant of a retirement/savings plan. QDROs are most commonly seen in divorce proceedings when the court is dividing the assets of the parties.

While most assets (e.g., bank accounts, vehicles, and furniture) can be divided without a court order, retirement plans require a QDRO to be issued in order for the company administering the retirement plan to recognize the right of the alternate payee to receive payments or benefits available under the plan. However, a QDRO cannot require the plan to confer a benefit to the alternate payee that is not already available under the plan.

Typically, the “alternate payee” is the spouse/soon-to-be former spouse of the plan participant. The alternate payee may also be a child or dependent of the plan participant. A QDRO will assign either a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the plan’s benefit to the alternate payee.

Although every QDRO must contain certain information, each QDRO will be different depending on the type of plan and benefits. If you have questions or need assistance with a QDRO, the attorneys at Hartung and Schroeder can help.


Travis is an associate attorney at Hartung Schroeder. His experience includes real estate and family law, civil litigation, and working with clients to form non-profit organizations and businesses. Travis also holds a Master of Business Administration degree, which allows him to better address the needs of business clients. You can read more about Travis or get in touch with him here.