How Long Does It Take to Get 401k after Divorce in Minnesota?
Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs can be one of the most valuable assets accumulated during a marriage. But what happens to these accounts when a couple gets divorced? Dividing retirement benefits is often complex, but a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) allows spouses to split retirement accounts tax-free. This guide will walk you through everything you need about using QDROs to receive retirement funds from an ex-spouse.
Dividing retirement accounts during divorce is tricky. Retirement plans have special tax treatments and withdrawal rules, so you can’t split them like other joint assets. A QDRO allows you to receive all or part of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits tax-free for your divorce settlement. This ensures you receive your fair share of retirement savings accumulated during the marriage.
Why Are QDROs Necessary for Dividing Retirement Accounts?
QDROs are needed because employer-sponsored retirement accounts have special tax treatments, withdrawal rules, and beneficiary designations under federal law.
Without a QDRO, an ex-spouse has no inherent right to the other spouse’s retirement funds. Retirement accounts are generally protected from creditors, lawsuits, and divorce decrees. So, a QDRO gives the ex-spouse official access to the funds as an alternate payee on the account.
A QDRO also avoids the taxes and penalties that would normally apply if you withdrew retirement funds before age 59 1⁄2. Thanks to the QDRO, the ex-spouse can receive retirement assets penalty-free. This qualifies the distribution as an exception to the standard early withdrawal penalties.
Filing a QDRO After Your Divorce Decree
Once your divorce decree is finalized in Minnesota and includes the division of retirement accounts like a 401k, the next step is filing a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). This is a court order that officially transfers the assets from one spouse’s 401k account into the other spouse’s account.
You can file a QDRO as soon as the divorce decree is issued. There is no need to wait until the divorce is totally finalized. In fact, filing the QDRO on time can speed up the process.
Typical QDRO Timeline in Minnesota
While every case is different, this is a general timeline for getting your share of a 401k via a QDRO in Minnesota:
- 1-4 weeks: Time to draft the QDRO and get approval from the plan administrator
- 2-8 weeks: Time for both spouses to sign the order and submit it to the court
- 1-4 months: Wait time for the judge to approve and for the court clerk to process
- 1-2 weeks: Time for the plan administrator to release the funds after approval
So, in straightforward cases with cooperative spouses, the entire QDRO process may take 2-3 months. If there are delays, disputes over the order, or court backlogs, it can take 6 months or longer.
Getting Access to the Funds
Once the QDRO is completed and approved, the plan administrator will transfer the assets directly into the other spouse’s 401k or IRA. This usually happens within 1-2 weeks after the court submits the approved QDRO.
Then, the receiving spouse has immediate access to the funds and can manage them or withdraw them as desired. There are still tax considerations if withdrawing early. A financial advisor can help decide the best way to handle the assets.
Having an experienced divorce lawyer prepare and file the QDRO helps avoid delays and ensures it follows all legal requirements. Martine Law has handled many QDROs in Minnesota and can make the process smooth. Contact us for a case review.