If you’ve been doing some research as you contemplate or plan for divorce, you may have read about qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). A QDRO is an order that’s used to divide divorcing spouses’ 401(k) retirement plans when they work in the private sector.
If you or your spouse is a federal employee with a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), you’ll need to learn about retirement benefits court orders (RBCOs). An RBCO serves essentially the same purpose as a QDRO.
An RBCO’s requirements fall under Title V of the U.S. Code. QDROs are covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). So what happens if one spouse is a federal employee with a TSP, and the other works in the private sector and has an ERISA plan? You may be able to use a QDRO for both as long as it complies with Title V.
Why you need to get your order in place as soon as possible
Besides being used to fairly distribute a couple’s retirement savings as they divorce, both QDROs and RBCOs can serve the purpose of preventing a spouse from withdrawing all of the funds in their retirement plan so they don’t have to divide it with their soon-to-be-ex.
Dealing with retirement plans at any time can be confusing. Trying to do it amid all the other complications of divorce can be overwhelming. That’s just one reason that it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and help ensure that you walk away from the marriage with fair property division and other agreements.