QDRO, the Dealer's Fee of Divorce

I have purchased several cars during my lifetime. The purchase usually involves about a month’s worth of Saturday afternoons spent looking at different makes and models and finding the dealership with the best selection. I search the internet for information about options and costs. I subscribe to Consumer Reports® just to get their dealer cost information on the make and model I have selected. Armed with my research, I go to the dealer that has the car I want where I spend several hours negotiating a price. I generally feel pretty good about the deal that I made and then I go to sign the invoice. Right there below the price I negotiated and along with the obligatory taxes and registration fees, is the “Dealer’s Fee,” which is $750. It’s preprinted on the form and there is no negotiation. It’s also infuriating. It feels like the dealer is changing the price after we agreed on the price. The salesman says it is standard on all of their agreements and can’t be changed. As a result of these experiences I have learned to ask the salesman the amount of the dealer fee before I begin negotiation the price.

QDRO’s, or Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, are required when the divorce or dissolution of marriage involves a transfer from one spouse’s retirement account to the other's. Although some divorce attorneys will prepare the QDRO, many do not. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we refer our client’s to an attorney whose primary practice involves the preparation of QDRO’s. Rules governing QDRO preparation change frequently and each of the financial institutions or governmental organizations that manage retirement accounts have their own unique procedures. An attorney who primarily handles QDRO preparation and execution is more familiar with these than an attorney who handles them occasionally. We feel that our client’s are better served by referring them to an attorney that focuses solely on QDRO’s.

QDRO’s are like the dealer’s fee of divorce because their necessity arises at the end of the case and the final hearing. At this point the client usually feels that they have paid all of the costs of the divorce. The client is then informed that they need to retain a QDRO attorney to prepare the QDRO. Of course, at Robert Sparks Attorneys, we try to alert our client’s to the additional expense in advance, but it is not always a certainty at the beginning of your case.

If you are confronting the dissolution of your marriage and either you or your spouse has a retirement account or pension, ask your family law attorney at the beginning of the case how the QDRO will be prepared. Also be sure to address the preparation of the QDRO and its cost during the negotiation of your Marital Settlement Agreement.