If you have a 401(k) or other retirement account with Fidelity, I hope this post will give you a piece of guidance for your starting point.
When it comes to dividing retirement in a divorce case, there is a specific document that is used to divide each retirement account, with a few exceptions.
IRA accounts for instance can be divided in the decree, and do not require a separate divorce document to ensure the retirement account is divided.
However, 401(k)s and pensions, and government retirement plans all call for a retirement division order.
This is a document that is drafted by either your lawyer, or a third party retirement division entity, and is presented to the court, most often, upon divorce.
So, again, unlike your vehicles or houses, that are divided in the document called a “decree”, retirement account divisions have their own set of terms that are set out in a separate document.
If you are dividing a retirement account, I feel it is most desirable that you have a lawyer who drafts retirement divisions in house, rather than hiring an outside counsel to draft them.
The reason is that if you, as a lawyer, carry expertise in dividing retirement accounts, you are in a much more able position to properly negotiate the terms of division than a lawyer who has not taken time to understand anything about dividing retirement plans.
Here is What You Need To Know About Fidelity Retirement Divisions In Divorce
You may have your own templates in your law firm to divide a 401(k), but you should NOT use your own template to divide any account that is with Fidelity.
Our law firm has divided 401(k) plans using our own forms and then using the online Fidelity QDRO center, and it is 500% easier to use their QDRO center than to mail in your own QDRO.
When you use the online fidelity QDRO center, you are prompted to answer questions regarding the division.
The answers will create a QDRO which you can download.
If you change absolutely anything about the form that you download from Fidelity, and then present the modified document to the Judge, the Judge will accept it, but Fidelity will reject it.
You must adhere to the exact form as written by Fidelity on its QDRO center.
Hopefully these tips will save you time.