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QDRO in Texas

Divorce is a challenging time, and one of the significant concerns during the process is the division of assets, especially retirement accounts. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) plays a crucial role in this matter. In this article, we will explore what a QDRO is, how it works in Texas, the calculation process, the types of retirement plans it covers, the filing procedure, and the cost involved. Let’s dive in!

Understanding a QDRO

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly known as a QDRO, is a legal document that facilitates the equitable division of retirement plan benefits between divorcing spouses. It ensures that both parties receive their fair share of the funds accumulated during the marriage.

How Does a QDRO Work in Texas?

In Texas, the QDRO allows a spouse to receive a percentage of the current value of a retirement account. The process involves several key steps:

Drafting Documents

Both parties work together to create the QDRO, outlining the details of the retirement account division.

Agreeing to Terms

The spouses must come to an agreement on the distribution of the retirement funds, ensuring a fair split.

Bringing Forms to Court

Once the QDRO is ready, it needs to be presented to the court for approval.

Delivering Authorized Forms to the Account Manager

After court approval, the authorized QDRO forms are delivered to the retirement account’s manager, who will then implement the division.

How is a QDRO in Texas Calculated?

Texas follows community property laws, meaning assets acquired during the marriage are considered communal and should be divided equally during the divorce. To determine a fair distribution, the following factors are taken into account:

  1. The account’s value before the marriage.
  2. Contributions made to the account during the marriage.
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The contributions made during the marriage are considered community property, and both spouses have equal rights to it. Various models can be used to split the funds, depending on the preferences and agreements of the divorcing couple.

Division of Retirement Plans in Texas

While Texas law states that community property should be divided in a “just and right” manner, it does not mandate a strict 50-50 split of assets. Collaborative decision-making is encouraged, allowing both parties to determine what distribution aligns with their unique situation.

What Types of Plans Does a QDRO Cover?

A QDRO is required for retirement accounts covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), typically stemming from work done in the private sector or state government. Some common plans that need a QDRO include:

  • 401(k)
  • 403(b)
  • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOP)
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Simplified employee pension plans

However, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and federal government pension plans are usually not covered by a QDRO.

Filing a QDRO in Texas: Step-by-Step Guide

To successfully file a QDRO during the divorce process in Texas, follow these steps:

Find Your QDRO Template

Contact the retirement account’s plan administrator to obtain a sample QDRO form that aligns with their specific requirements.

Consult with a Lawyer

Enlist the help of a legal professional experienced in QDROs to assist in agreeing on terms and completing the necessary paperwork.

Present Your Form During the Divorce Hearing

When attending your divorce hearing, bring the mutually agreed-upon QDRO form for the judge’s signature.

Obtain the Clerk’s Approval

In certain cases, such as with the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the QDRO may need the clerk’s stamp and signature for validation.

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Submit the Form to the Plan Administrator

Once your QDRO is officially approved, submit it to the plan administrator who will implement the division of the retirement account.

Timing and Limits of a QDRO

The process of preparing a QDRO typically takes a few weeks to a few months, depending on the level of collaboration between the parties involved. Lengthy disagreements may extend the timeline and increase costs.

After obtaining a QDRO, it’s essential to be aware that the distribution of funds may not be immediate, particularly if the employee is still active within the retirement system. The timing of filing a QDRO is critical, as delays might impact the judge’s decision to divide the assets.

The Cost of a QDRO in Texas

The cost of preparing a QDRO in Texas can range from $400 to $900, depending on the complexity of the case. Collaborative efforts in reaching an agreement can lead to cost savings for both parties involved.


A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) serves as a crucial tool during divorce proceedings, ensuring a fair division of retirement plan benefits. In Texas, the process involves collaboration, agreement on terms, court approval, and submission to the plan administrator. Although it may take some time, a well-executed QDRO can secure the financial future of both spouses.


  1. What is a QDRO, and what does it do?A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a legal document used to divide retirement plan benefits between divorcing spouses fairly.
  2. Are retirement accounts community property in Texas?Yes, in Texas, retirement accounts acquired during the marriage are considered community property and should be divided equitably.
  3. Do all retirement plans require a QDRO?No, only retirement accounts covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) require a QDRO.
  4. How long does it take to get a QDRO in Texas?The process typically takes a few weeks to a few months, depending on the level of cooperation between the parties involved.
  5. What is the cost of obtaining a QDRO in Texas?The cost of preparing a QDRO in Texas can range from $400 to $900, depending on various factors. Collaborative efforts can reduce costs.
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