Table: A QDRO Checklist

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) protects a divorcing spouse's interest in the other spouse's retirement assets. Before signing off on a QDRO, you or your attorney should do the following:

-- Get your ex's authorization (or a subpoena) to examine retirement accounts

-- Don't assume the full value of a defined benefit is reflected in the statement

-- Base your share of the defined benefit on the benefits that will accrue as of your ex's retirement, not as of the divorce

-- Demand key benefits, such as cost-of-living adjustments and a share of any early retirement incentives

-- Get survivor benefits that cover you if your ex dies before or after retirement

-- Find out what age your ex has to be in order for you to tap your benefits

-- Roll over your share of 401(k) and IRA assets into a separate IRA, if allowed

-- Have your QDRO approved by the court and plan administrator before the divorce is final

Data: BusinessWeek

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