A QDRO is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It’s a legal document that’s usually created after a divorce or legal separation. In a nutshell, it’s used to divide a retirement account.

In many divorces, a retirement account or pension plan needs to be divided so that a portion of the account is transferred from the owner to his or her former spouse. The QDRO ensures that the transfer is considered to be tax-free according to the IRS and the Department of Labor.

Most retirement plan administrators will not divide retirement benefits or provide payments without a QDRO that meets the Plan Administrator’s approval.