4 Steps of the QDRO Approval Process

Posted by William Hernsberger | Apr 03, 2015 | 0 Comments


A QDRO is much more than a document . . . It's a process.

If you prepare a QDRO but don't walk it through the 4 steps of the approval process, you might as well not prepare the QDRO at all. Neither approach will work. It doesn't matter whether you're a lawyer working on the closing documents after a divorce or you're a non-lawyer trying to do your own QDRO, you must take these 4 steps to reach the finish line.

  • Step 1 - Prepare the QDRO

We maintain a very large library of retirement plan documents, summary plan descriptions, QDRO approval processes, and model QDROs for thousands of retirement plans. And the library grows daily.

We use these documents, the biographical information you supply us, and the specific language of the Divorce Decree to prepare your QDRO in compliance with Texas law, federal law, and the specific provisions of the retirement plan.

  • Step 2 - Submit a draft copy of the QDRO to the Plan Administrator for pre-approval

This step is optional. And not all Plan Administrators will pre-approve a QDRO. But if the Plan Administrator offers this service, you should take advantage of it. If they pre-approve the QDRO, you can be sure they will approve it after the Judge signs it. If they reject the QDRO, they'll tell you exactly why they rejected it. We can then revise the QDRO to satisfy them (at no additional charge), and still protect your client's rights, before you take it to the Judge.

The version of the QDRO that you send to the Plan Administrator should have the Addendum attached to it. They will need the information on the Addendum to review the QDRO.

Before you decide to have the QDRO pre-approved, you should know that many Plan Administrators take 30 to 60 days to review your QDRO. That's a problem if you are in a hurry to get to court.

  • Step 3 - Present the QDRO to the court for approval

In Texas, the court that granted the divorce retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction to render a QDRO.

The best practice is to present the QDRO to the Court at the same time you present the Divorce Decree. If you submit the QDRO to the Court after the Decree has been entered, Section 9.102 of the  Texas Family Code provides a specific procedure that you must follow to submit the QDRO to the Court. Failure to follow the Section 9.102 procedure will likely cause the QDRO to be void.

Make sure the Addendum  IS NOT attached to the QDRO when you present it to the Judge. If it is, your personal information, including social security numbers, may become available to the public.

This step is not included in our $400 QDRO Preparation fee. Nor do we provide coaching services to non-lawyers on how to complete this step. The Hernsberger Law Firm can prepare the QDRO and represent you through the entire QDRO Approval Process anywhere in Texas at our normal hourly rate discussed in  QDRO Litigation Services. We also work with hundreds of lawyers throughout Texas. Chances are we can refer you to a knowledgeable lawyer in your area to handle this step for you.

  • Step 4 - Present a certified copy of the signed QDRO to the Plan Administrator for approval

When we prepare the QDRO, we will supply you with the mailing address of the Plan Administrator.

After the Judge signs the QDRO, it will be filed with the District Clerk. You should request a certified copy of the signed QDRO from the District Clerk and mail it to the Plan Administrator at the address we have supplied you.

Before you mail the certified copy of the QDRO, be sure to attach the Addendum to it. The Plan Administrator will not be able to process the QDRO without the information contained in the Addendum.

As a general rule, expect the Plan Administrator to act on your QDRO within 4 to 6 weeks.

This step is not included in our $400 QDRO preparation fee. However, we can obtain a certified copy of the QDRO from the District Clerk of any county and submit it to the Plan Administrator for you. There is an additional $150 fee for this service.

About the Author

William Hernsberger

Judge Hernsberger has practiced family law in Texas for over 30 years as a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law and Judge of the Family Court in El Paso, Texas. He has tried dozens of jury trials to verdict, thousands of bench trials to verdict, mediated hundreds of family law disputes, and a...


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