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New QDRO Attorney, Kevin O’Brien

Gillespie, Shields and Taylor Welcomes New QDRO Attorney, Kevin O’BrienPhoto from Unsplash


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Gillespie, Shields and Taylor Welcomes New QDRO Attorney, Kevin O’Brien

Meet QDRO Attorney Kevin O’Brien II, J.D.

We are thrilled to introduce our new Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) Attorney, Kevin O’Brien. He holds an undergraduate degree in strategic intelligence from Patrick Henry College and a Juris Doctor from Arizona State University. He passed the bar during his final year of law school.

He now specializes exclusively in the preparation of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), handling the division of various retirement plans such as private pensions, military retired pay, multiple state and private retirement systems, IRAs, and a variety of investment accounts.

Taking a Closer Look at Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO)


Numerous financial institutions in Arizona mandate the involvement of an attorney for the preparation of QDROs. Even if your institution does not require one, engaging with a seasoned attorney is advisable to ensure thorough consideration of all your legal options. Whether you’re the recipient wanting to guarantee the order encompasses everything you’re entitled to, or you’re the contributor looking to safeguard your rights, compliance with both federal and state laws is essential for the validity of any QDRO. Consulting with a reputable QDRO attorney in Arizona is a prudent measure to ensure your QDRO receives judicial approval.

Understanding the nuances of retirement benefits and their division through a QDRO requires not just legal knowledge, but a strategic approach tailored to each unique situation. With retirement assets often being among the most significant elements of a marital estate, the stakes are high. The right attorney doesn’t only draft documents; they advocate for your future financial security.

By partnering with a professional like Kevin O’Brien, who possesses a deep understanding of both the legal landscape and the personal implications of these orders, you’re taking a critical step towards protecting your interests. Kevin’s dedication to precision, combined with a compassionate understanding of his clients’ needs, ensures that every QDRO managed is crafted with the utmost care and expertise.

Here are some ways our QDRO Lawyer can help you:

  • Private Pension Plans (Defined Benefit Plans)
  • 401(k) Plans (ERISA Defined Contribution Plans)
  • IRAs
  • Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System
  • Thrift Savings Plan
  • Military Retirement Plan
  • Arizona State Retirement System
  • Public Safety Personnel Retirement System
  • City of Phoenix Employees Retirement System
  • Out-of-State Pension Plans
  • Present-Day Valuations
  • Stock and Executive Plans

Overcoming Challenges with QDROs

The preparation and implementation of a QDRO can come with its set of challenges, such as determining the correct valuation date for the division of assets or understanding the specific rules that different retirement plans may have regarding division and distribution.

An experienced QDRO attorney can help you navigate these challenges by:

  • Ensuring Accuracy: Meticulously reviewing all documents and calculations to prevent costly mistakes.
  • Negotiating Terms: Assisting in negotiations to reach a fair settlement that reflects the contributions and entitlements of both parties.
  • Understanding Complex Plans: Providing expertise on various retirement systems and their unique requirements for QDROs.

The Benefits of Professional Assistance

Working with a qualified attorney offers several benefits, including:

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your QDRO complies with all legal standards and accurately represents your interests.
  • Expert Guidance: Benefiting from specialized knowledge of retirement accounts and the intricacies of divorce law.
  • Efficiency: Streamlining the process to avoid delays in court approval or the distribution of benefits.

By engaging with a proficient QDRO lawyer, individuals can ensure that their retirement assets are divided fairly and in accordance with legal requirements, securing their financial future post-divorce or separation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)


QDROs play a pivotal role in the equitable division of retirement assets, ensuring that both parties receive their fair share according to the agreements made. These orders require meticulous preparation and a deep understanding of both federal and state laws to be executed correctly. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common questions regarding QDROs to provide clarity and guidance for those navigating this complex area.

Whether you’re just starting the process or looking to understand your rights and responsibilities better, these FAQs are here to assist you.

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

A QDRO is a legal decree or agreement that acknowledges an individual’s right to receive a portion or all of a retirement plan participant’s benefits. This document legally assigns these benefits to an “alternate payee,” which could be a spouse, former spouse, child, or another dependent.

Who needs a QDRO?

If you’re undergoing a divorce or legal separation and there are retirement assets to be divided, you might need a QDRO. This order ensures the legal division of retirement benefits and protections for both parties under the plan.

What information must a QDRO contain?

A QDRO must clearly identify the retirement plan, the participant, and the alternate payee(s). It also needs to detail the amount or percentage of benefits to be paid to the alternate payee and the period or number of payments covered by the order.

How does a QDRO affect my retirement benefits?

A QDRO changes the way retirement benefits are distributed from a plan. It can assign some or all of a participant’s benefits to an alternate payee as specified in the order. For participants, it means that the specified portion of your retirement benefits will go to the alternate payee.

Is there a difference between a QDRO and a domestic relations order?

Yes, while all QDROs are domestic relations orders, not all domestic relations orders qualify as QDROs. A QDRO is a specific type of order that complies with both the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Internal Revenue Code requirements, allowing for the division of retirement benefits.

Can a QDRO be issued after a divorce is finalized?

Yes, a QDRO can be issued after the divorce decree is finalized. However, it’s beneficial to address the division of retirement assets during the divorce proceedings to ensure a smoother process.

Who can help me with a QDRO?

It’s advisable to seek assistance from a lawyer who specializes in QDROs or family law. They can guide you through the complexities of preparing and filing a QDRO, ensuring it meets all legal requirements and protects your interests.

What are the first steps in obtaining a QDRO?

The first step in securing a QDRO is to gather all necessary financial documents related to the retirement plans in question. It’s then essential to consult with a QDRO attorney like Kevin O’Brien, who can guide you through the process, from drafting the order to its final approval.

How long does the QDRO process take?

The duration of the QDRO process can vary significantly based on several factors, including the complexity of the retirement plans involved, the cooperation level of both parties, and the specific requirements of the plan administrators. On average, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Can a QDRO be modified once it’s been approved?

Modifying a QDRO after it has been approved is challenging but not impossible. Changes typically require mutual agreement from both parties and the approval of the court. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney like Kevin O’Brien can help you understand your options for modification.

Does a QDRO apply to all types of retirement accounts?

A QDRO can be applied to most employer-sponsored retirement plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including 401(k) plans and pension plans. However, it does not apply to IRAs or government retirement plans, which are governed by different rules.

What happens if a retirement plan is divided without a QDRO?

Dividing retirement assets without a QDRO can lead to significant tax implications and penalties for early withdrawal. Additionally, without a legally binding document like a QDRO, the division of assets may not be enforceable, leading to potential legal disputes in the future.


Hire An Experienced Attorney for your Qualified Domestic Relations Order Needs

We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin O’Brien to our team at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor. Kevin brings with him eight years of dedicated service across Arizona, specializing in the intricate field of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs). His joining marks a significant enhancement to our firm’s offerings and reflects our collective commitment to excellence, integrity, and efficiency in legal services.

Kevin’s move to our firm is not just about continuing the outstanding work he’s known for; it’s about elevating the level of service and expertise available to you, our valued clients. With a focus on modernizing our QDRO practice, Kevin and our team are poised to meet today’s needs while anticipating the future demands of our clients. This forward-looking approach ensures that we remain at the forefront of QDRO law, ready to address the complexities and changes in this vital area of family law.

Kevin is renowned for his communicative, competent, and efficient approach to handling QDROs. He understands the importance of these orders in the broader context of divorce and separation, and his dedication to his clients’ best interests is unwavering. Whether you’re navigating the division of retirement assets or seeking guidance on QDRO-related matters, Kevin’s expertise provides a beacon of clarity and reliability.

In this new chapter, Kevin is excited to leverage the resources and collective knowledge of Gillespie, Shields & Taylor to deliver unparalleled legal support. We all share in this excitement and look forward to the positive impact Kevin will undoubtedly bring to our team and, more importantly, to you.

Our door is always open. If you have any questions about QDROs or how we can assist with your legal needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, with Kevin O’Brien leading the way in our QDRO practice, we are more equipped than ever to support you through these complex legal processes. Here’s to new beginnings and continued success with Kevin on board.

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