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QDRO is an abbreviation for qualified domestic relations order, which is a domestic relations order, i.e., a judgment, order, or decree for alimony, support, or marital property rights, and the domestic relations order must transfer all or part of the right to receive benefits payable under a pension plan based on a state's domestic relations law.

A domestic relations order is made by a state authority, usually a court, under a state domestic relations law. And these judgments, orders, or decrees are for child support, alimony or marital property rights to the participant's spouse, former spouse, children, or other dependents. A domestic relations order becomes a QDRO only when it creates or recognizes an alternate payee’s right to receive, or transfers to an alternate payee the right to receive all or part of the participant's benefits, and the alternate payee cannot be anyone other than the participant's spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent. 

See: 26 USC § 414(p)(1)

[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]