Introduction: Welcome to the QDRO and DRO drafting page. This site is presented by Attorney Peter C. Alessio for the sole purpose of providing high quality QDRO and DRO drafting services by a lawyer to lawyers, their clients, and individuals with existing divorce jujdgments.
Why limit drafting services to lawyers, their clients, and individuals with existing divorce judgments? Providing QDROs and DROs to unrepresented parties requires a level of involvement in the parties’ decision making process that can constitute the practice of law. If a lawyer is dealing with parties outside of jurisdictions to which the drafting lawyer is admitted, this can lead to violations of ethical rules and refusal of malpractice insurance coverage. This very same high level of involvement creates a risk of legal malpractice if the unrepresented party does not understand or otherwise does not follow through on what must be done once the order has been written and pre-approved by the retirement plan or plans in question. Only a lawyer familiar with his or her client’s situation, the law of divorce in the client’s jurisdiction, and the requirements of the local courts can provide the oversight and follow through that leads to the drafting of quality orders and their prompt and effective implementation. The only exception to the above is for lawyers in Berkshire County, Massachusetts that prefer that I work directly with their clients and want me to be responsible for seeing all the orders in a case through to implementation. This service includes court appearances, if necessary.
I have seen substantially higher fees elsewhere for this type of work. How can you keep your price at this level and offer the level of service you claim? By limiting my services to other lawyers, the clients they send me, and those individuals that already have a divorce judgment in place, the time spent gathering information, explaining options, re-writing orders and monitoring follow through is dramatically reduced. Also, once I have had the opportunity to work with a particular attorney, he or she will usually have me work with them in future cases, further streamlining the process.
How can one lawyer draft QDROs and DROs for all the various retirement plans and systems across the country? The vast majority of retirement plans (virtually all non-government plans) must qualify under and are governed by federal statutes such as ERISA, the regulations promulgated thereunder, and certain provisions of the IRS Code. Consequently, much like bankruptcy cases, the law is the same across the country. The various state and federal retirement plans have such large memberships that frequent drafting of orders enables me to maintain an up to date body of knowledge on the unique aspects and requirements of these plans.
What happens if a plan administrator rejects one of your plans? I will work directly with you and the plan administrator to address any problems the administrator might have with a proposed order. The one price you pay includes as much of my time as necessary to get the plan approved by the administrator. In fact, you do not pay until the order or orders in question are pre-approved by the plan administrator.
What happens if a court rejects one of your plans? If the proposed order is submitted to the court in the proper form for that court and with notice of pre-approval from the plan administrator, such rejections are very rare. However, in that rare event, again, I will work directly with you and the plan administrator to address the concerns raised by the court in question.
If I hire you to write an order for one of my clients, how does the process work? You, or one of your staff, can contact me by telephone, fax, or e-mail. Once I have gathered all the necessary information, I will draft the order and submit the order to the retirement plan administrator and obtain the needed pre-approval. Once the order is pre-approved by the plan administrator, payment is due. Once I am paid the order is immediately sent by mail, fax or e-mail, as you direct, to you or, if this is a Massachusetts case, you can direct me to arrange for the parties to sign, if applicable, and I will file the order with the court. If you, as the attorney, wish to handle these final steps, I generally recommend that the plan pre-approved orders be sent to you electronically. Electronic transmission will allow you to take a pre-approved order and format it as required by your local court. Along with the pre-approved order you will receive information and instructions to allow you or the court, depending on the custom in your area, to submit the actual order made by the court to the retirement plan for implementation. Once again, I am available to answer any questions and assist in these final steps at no extra cost.
What if changes in the law over time affect one of your orders? I maintain a database, strictly confidential, that ties together the lawyer I have done orders for and the retirement plans named in those orders. Any time there is a new development that might affect the validity or operation of orders written for a particular plan, I contact those lawyers I have worked with regarding that plan and advise them of any actions that might be necessary. The advice is free. The cost of any further work by me in such events is negotiated on a case by case basis.
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