If your spouse had a retirement account during your marriage, you may be entitled to a portion of it if the two of you have a community property regime. There are two steps to cashing out your marital portion of a retirement account. First, there’s a community property partition, followed by a QDRO (pronounced quad-row) procedure.
How do you know if you have a Community Property Regime?
In Louisiana, all married persons start out in what’s called the community of acquets and gains, or community property for short. Community property is all of the assets and debts you and your spouse acquire during the course of your marriage. If you and your spouse want to hold certain property or debt separately, then you have to specifically contract to do that, through a pre-marital agreement or a declaration of paraphernality/separation of property agreement. If you and your spouse have never signed any document that would make certain property or all property acquired during the marriage separate property, then you have a community property regime.
What Happens to Community Property Once Spouses Divorce?
Divorce ends the community property regime. However, each spouse retains an ownership interest in the community property. The way that ownership interest is determined and divided is a legal proceeding called a community property partition. In this process all of the assets and debts of the couple are listed out, and values assigned. The parties, either by agreement or with the help of the court, are given ownership and responsibility for all of the assets and debts, in as fair a manner as possible.
What Happens After the Partition of Community Property?
The court will issue a judgment of partition, stating each spouse’s rights and obligations to all of the assets and liabilities of the community. The community regime is over for the items of property and debt that have been divided.
Where Does the QDRO Process Come In?
Once a spouse has been determined to have an interest in a retirement account of the other spouse, the QDRO procedure is begun to eventually direct the holder of the retirement plan to send payments from the account to the appropriate spouse. This is done through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. Each company has its own set of procedures for processing requests for distributions from employee retirement accounts, and that procedure results in the court granting an order, which is approved, or qualified, by the company. Once the QDRO is approved, the company will accept the order and begin their internal process to distribute the funds.
Can Meneray Family Law, L.L.C. Handle my Community Property Partition and QDRO Proceedings?
Absolutely. An unsettled community is a very uncomfortable thing for my clients. They feel that they have this unfinished business, those loose ends of their marriage that they want to deal with. And in the case of a QDRO, many clients worry about getting their portion of a retirement account and want to make certain that process is completed as soon as possible. Call Liz today at (504) 330-5522 or send her an e-mail at liz@menerayfamilylaw, to make an appointment.