Q: My client’s CPA has told her that her legal separation from her husband does not qualify her for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) and that only a divorce can lead to a QDRO. Is her CPA correct?
A: No. A DRO that provides for child support or recognizes marital property rights may be a QDRO, without regard to the existence of a divorce proceeding. Such an order, however, must be issued pursuant to state domestic relations law and create or recognize the rights of an individual who is an alternate payee (spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant). Thus, the answer is that legal separation, not just divorce, can lead to a QDRO.