A domestic relations order (DRO) is an order entered by a state court in a divorce, or other domestic relations proceeding, which awards a portion of a TRS participant's benefits to a spouse or former spouse. Before TRS can make payments directly to a participant's spouse or former spouse of the amount awarded by the court, TRS must determine that the DRO is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). To be accepted as a qualified order, the DRO must meet all requirements in the relevant law and rules. If TRS determines that the order is qualified, TRS will administer the QDRO as directed by the court when benefits becomes payable under the plan.
For DROs entered by a court on or after January 1, 2015, parties are required to use the TRS model order. TRS has two model DROs. There is a Model Domestic Relations Order for Active Members and a Model Domestic Relations Order for Retirees. The model orders, along with an explanation of the model orders, are available on the TRS website below. A person should choose the Model Domestic Relations Order for Active Members if the participant is not retired under TRS as of the date of the divorce. A person should choose the Model Domestic Relations Order for Retirees if the participant's TRS retirement date is before the date of the divorce. TRS may reject an order as not qualified if the parties use the wrong model. Additionally, for DROs entered by a court on or after January 1, 2015, TRS may reject an order as not qualified if it deviates from the model order. Parties should not delete or omit language from the order, including any option or special instructions not selected.
The model orders and explanation are not intended to replace the advice of an attorney. You should consult your attorney to protect your interest in TRS benefits. If you or your attorney need information regarding your TRS benefits, or if you have questions about the model orders provided on the TRS website, please contact the TRS Legal Services department.