Updated: Jun 13, 2022
A QDRO (pronounced "Quadro") is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is a way to divide someone's retirement funds. Florida law requires an equitable split of assets when two people divorce. A retirement account (for example 401k, TSP, if military) is an asset that may be divided. So, if a spouse has a retirement account (regardless of whether or not he/she is currently receiving funds from the account), the other spouse may be entitled to a share of that account.
Retirement accounts are subject to strict rules for distributing funds and penalties and tax implications for taking the funds outside of retirement. So, it is best to use a QDRO to distribute the funds. The court will enter an order directed to the retirement fund administrator how and to whom the retirement funds should be paid, when the time comes. Or, it may direct the administrator to transfer a portion of one spouse's retirement funds to a new retirement fund in the receiving spouse's name.
The order must contain very specific information. Flawed QDROs may not be enforceable. So, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney in your state to see: 1) if you are entitled to a portion of your spouse's retirement funds, 2) if so, how much, and 3) how to be sure you get what you are entitled to.