A domestic relations order means any judgment, decree, or order (including a property settlement) which relates to the provision of child support, alimony, or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child, or dependent, and is made pursuant to a state domestic relations law (Sec. 414(p)(1)(B)).

A qualified domestic relations order is a domestic relations order which creates, recognizes, or assigns the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a plan (Sec. 414(p)(1)(A)(i)), and the following terms and conditions are met (Sec. 414(p)(1)(A)(ii)):

The Order must specify (Sec. 414(p)(2))

1) the name and last known mailing address of the participant and each alternate payee,
2) the amount or percentage of the participant’s benefits to be paid by the plan to each alternate payee, or the manner in which the amount or percentage is to be determined, and
3) each plan to which such Order applies.

One cannot "cure" a distribution made under a defective QDRO to qualify such distribution as a qualified distribution pursuant to a QDRO.

A poorly drafted QDRO, or unsuspecting spouse without counsel, may find that he or she has given away not only the accrued benefit during marriage, but also the rights to receive future accrued benefits, including survivor benefits. Thus, a subsequent spouse may receive no pension benefit from the working spouse because the first spouse will be named as beneficiary of all the benefits.

SOURCE: DivorceSource