An equitable distribution judgment was entered 11 years ago. The order states plaintiff is entitled to a percentage of defendant’s retirement pay when defendant begins to receive it. The judgment also states that plaintiff’s counsel will draft a QDRO. Now it is time for defendant to retire but no one ever drafted a QDRO. Is there a problem? Can the court enter one now?
The equitable distribution statute contains specific requirements for the classification and distribution of “pension, retirement or other deferred compensation benefits.” GS 50-20.1. Because these retirement accounts frequently are the most valuable asset in an equitable distribution case, it is significant that the court of appeals held in Watkins v. Watkins, 746 S.E.2d 394 (N.C. App. 2013), that a 401K, one of the most common retirement accounts today, generally is not “deferred compensation” and therefore does not fall within the restrictions of GS 50-20.1.