A. What is an Approved Domestic Relations Order (ADRO)?
QDRO’s do not apply to plans not covered by ERISA or other federal statutes. These plans use a Domestic Relations Order (DRO), which is also a set of instructions similar to a QDRO. DROs are usually written against governmental plans, and Approved Domestic Relations Orders (ADROs), against public school retirement systems. Since the term QDRO has become a generic term, just about all specialized Orders are referred to as QDROs in a generalized discussion context.
B. Who is the “Participant” under an ADRO?
The Participant is the person who has earned the pension.
C. Who is the “Alternate Payee”?
The alternate payee is the individual who is awarded a component of a participant’s pension under an ADRO. Usually, it is the spouse.
D. What if the dates used in settlement calculation are subject to dispute and negotiation?
A qualified actuary such as Pension Analysis Consultants (PAC) is needed to do the calculations and present evidence and figures for consideration for the final ADRO.
E. Why is the division of pensions such a complicated matter?
When dividing a pension using an ADRO, in addition to the factors listed previously, all appropriate state laws and court decisions that pertain to equitable distribution of pensions must be considered. PAC actuaries have this knowledge and keep abreast of new laws and court decisions.
F. How long does the Participant have to be in the Retirement System for an ADRO to be drafted against her pension?
The participant has to be vested.
Mark K. Altschuler, M.S., Actuary, is President of Pension Analysis Consultants Inc., of Elkins Park, PA. and has prepared over twelve thousand marital pension valuations and draft QDRO’s for counsel. He is well-versed in the complex arena of equitable distribution in marital dissolution matters. Mr. Altschuler, has over fifteen years experience as an actuary in the pension and property/casualty areas, and is an affiliated member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).