The road to retirement includes many different life events. If you are divorcing, review the information on this page to understand how divorce may impact your IPERS benefits.
A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a special court order, separate from the divorce decree, that specifies how pension assets will be divided following a divorce. The QDRO, not the divorce decree, gives IPERS legal authority to make a payment to a former spouse.
If you and your former spouse agree to divide other marital property equitably, a QDRO may not be necessary.
You or your attorney must submit the QDRO to IPERS for review. For IPERS to execute the QDRO, it must:
- Be signed by a duly appointed judicial official.
- Be filed in accordance with applicable laws and procedures (Iowa Code section 97B.39, 495 Iowa Administrative Code 16.2 (97B) and the Internal Revenue Code).
IPERS’ sole responsibility is to determine if we can administer the Order; if so, it will be qualified by IPERS and added to the Member's account. We do not determine what should be included in the QDRO, other than the required paragraphs.
If you are divorcing before you retire, both you and your attorney should keep these points in mind.
- Your former spouse is referred to as an alternate payee by IPERS.
- IPERS can only administer a shared payment method for dividing benefits. Only one account exists and, as the IPERS member, it is your account. IPERS will track payments to your former spouse for tax reasons only.
- Until your divorce is final, you must have written consent from your spouse to change your beneficiary designations.
- A QDRO may determine which benefit payment options are available at retirement. Consider these options when drafting your domestic relations order.
- Consider whether you should divide death benefits. If death benefits are not addressed in the order, your alternate payee may have no right to any share of death benefits.
- Ask your attorney to contact IPERS to review your QDRO for pre-approval. This will help avoid prohibited terms and conditions.
Model QDRO and Instruction Packets
IPERS does not generate QDROs; however, we do provide a model QDRO template and instruction packet to assist you. They include:
- Mandatory, permitted and prohibited provisions.
- Summary of the legal requirements.
- Practical pointers for drafting a QDRO.
Use the model and instruction packet to help expedite IPERS’ review and ensure the acceptance of your proposed or final order. If you are divorcing after you retire, please visit the Retiree Divorce page for additional information and templates.