Property settlement, retirement plans & pro se


This is about the mechanics of a negotiated, voluntary property split in a pro se divorce. After a relatively short marriage (2-1/2 years) without children, my spouse and I are in agreement to divorce under the NC absolute divorce proceedings following separation already of one year. She has lived in Charlotte for many years, while I live in South Carolina, but I assume her residence satisfies jurisdictional requirements to file in Mecklenburg County. The issue is how to accomplish an agreed to property settlement, which I think requires a court order because it largely involves a QDRO order to split some retirement contributions (around $20,000 worth). The proposed settlement is basically I give her the agreed to amount of retirement assets under a QDRO, agree to waive any rights to enable her to sell her house in her name, and perhaps dispose of some minor named property (a painting). I assume the agreement would also have something like a waiver of any equitable distribution and any claim to support. My question is whether something like a draft property agreement referencing the QDRO should be annexed to the complaint, or should the complaint simply refer to a property settlement being entered into in parallel (and presumably signed before the entry of the final divorce order)?

We intend to do this pro se, except for the fact that a lawyer friend tells me that in practical terms I really need to get a specialized lawyer to draft the QDRO as tax document. So beyond the original complaint involving the divorce, does the judge need to sign the QDRO when he signs the divorce decree, or can it be signed and filed afterwards (since I understand the retirement plan custodian will only transfer the retirement assets with a court order)?


One resource you may find helpful is our Rosen Online Service. This service allows access to our library of legal forms and communication with an attorney at our firm. This service only costs $199/month, and would be a great resource to help you with drafting and filing your QDRO.

If you have a signed separation agreement, you can reference the agreement in your complaint for equitable distribution (ED). You will need to file for ED and have the judge sign the QDRO before you submit it to the plan administrator to distribute the funds. The judge can sign the QDRO at the same time as he or she signs the divorce judgement. You’ll want to make sure you include ED in your complaint so that your claim is preserved in case the divorce is granted before you have the QDRO signed.