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Evanston & North Shore Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) Attorney

Dividing pensions and retirement funds with equality and fairness

Our Evanston & North Shore QDRO services protect you & your marital assets.


Pensions & 401(k) Division in a Divorce: We Can Help

Everything shared in a marriage is shared in a divorce.

When a married couple divorces, their marital property is divided. This includes pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the account. If these accounts were opened and funded during the marriage, they are divided in the divorce.

Splitting retirement accounts like pensions and 401(k)s is more complex than dividing other assets. It requires a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. An Evanston QDRO attorney can help ensure equitable distribution, with thoughtful recommendations about the details others might miss. O. Long Law guides you through the entire process to safeguard you and your assets. We can prepare QDROs for any US jurisdiction.

A QDRO Helps

  • Effectuate Fair Division of Assets & Property
  • Prepare for Short & Long-Term Financial Stability
  • Enforce Proper Allocation of Assets

Case Results

Uncontested Divorce Resolved in 8 Weeks

Our client needed a speedy divorce, and she and her spouse had already come to an agreement. After coming to O. Long Law, we completed the entire process in 8 weeks.

Settlement in Highly-Contested Divorce

After staying in divorce limbo for over three years, a client retained O. Long Law and quickly reached a mutually agreed conclusion.

Client Keeps Entire Pension Post Divorce

As part of a negotiated divorce settlement, we preserved our client’s entire pension, safeguarding what she spent her career building.

Why Choose O. Long Law?

As a women-led family firm, we know stay-at-home parents are particularly vulnerable since they lose years of potential income and career advancement. We ensure that the division of assets negotiated during your divorce goes into effect, so you get your share.

Clients Benefit From

  • Personalized client service from a team of legal and financial professionals.
  • Meticulous account oversight from an in-house financial advisor.
  • Honest advice to help you make an informed decision.
  • Successful resolution of high-asset, complex divorces.

We have your back and know what to do regarding equitable distribution.

Meet Your Family's Team

Olivia St. Clair Long headshot

St. Clair

Founder, Principal Attorney

Headshot of Anne Whiting

Anne Whiting

Financial Strategist, MBA

QDRO: Laws & What to Consider

The Long & Short of It…

Federal law requires that pensions and 401(k)s are transferred in a divorce using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a court order that legally transfers marital pension benefits or retirement plan funds to a participant’s spouse or former spouse.

Dividing Retirement Plans

Dividing retirement plans is challenging because their value can be based on a combination of employer and employee contributions, growth rates during or before/after the marriage, and market trends. Unless both parties are retired, they usually don’t have access to a pension until they reach a certain age.

Retirement assets must be divided in a divorce, but that isn’t the last step. After your Judgment is entered, you still need another order, a QDRO, to get those assets divided.

Create Separate Accounts

Once the plan is valued, the QDRO orders the retirement plan administrator to create two accounts, one per spouse.

QDRO Timeline & Procedure

It can take 60 to 90 days or sometimes longer to complete the process. Pension QDROs should be completed when your divorce is finalized.

Info Required in a QDRO

Most QDROs contain:

  • The full name and a current mailing address for each party
  • The specific name and account number of the plan to which the order applies
  • The percentage or exact dollar amount to be paid to the alternate payee
  • The payment terms
  • Limitations for the transfer of benefits

The QDRO Process

  • Identify and assign a value for all pension and 401(k)s eligible for QDRO.
  • Draft the QDRO.
  • Allow both parties (and their divorce attorneys) to review.
  • After all, changes are made, each party has a final review before signing.
  • The signed QDRO is sent to a judge for review, approval, and entry into the court records.
  • The certified QDRO is sent to the Plan Administrator.
  • Plan Administrator notifies both parties when funds are transferred into each party’s respective accounts.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders FAQs

Can I Divide Government or Military Pensions With A QDRO?

Yes, QDROs apply to government and military pensions. It may not apply if the participant was previously married and divided the plan with a former spouse.

Are All QDROs the Same?

No, each retirement plan requires slightly different language and terms to accept a QDRO. In addition, most states have certain state-specific QDROs they need to divide the pensions or retirement plans for state or municipal employees. In Illinois, these are called QILDROs.

Does a QDRO Expire?

Usually, there is no deadline to review, approve, and send the QDRO to the Plan Administrator. But, we can make sure it happens quickly and doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Where Do You Practice & How Do I Reach You?

We handle QDRO issues in Cook, Lake, Will, and DuPage counties. We are based in Evanston, on Chicago's North Shore, which includes the communities of Northbrook, Deerfield, Glenview, Northfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Wilmette, and Winnetka.

We'll schedule a quick 30-minute call to set up a consultation. One of our lawyers will review your situation, go over what's important to you, and offer some advice.

Our hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm, and currently, we're holding meetings via telephone or Zoom.