Both of you may be right, sometimes you need a qualified domestic relations order to transfer funds and sometimes you need a direction of payment, check with the fund that you taking the money from that should tell you. take care and yes it is an IRS thing a qcro allows you to move money without a tax consquenece under certain circumstances, divorce being one.
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The Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is only for the Plan Administrator, not the IRS. If the Plan Administrator only needs a letter or a copy of the Judgment of Divorce, then that is all you need -- assuming your ex-spouse agrees.
You will need to set up a qualified account. If you do not, then the money that comes to you may be considered income by the IRS and you will taxed on it. You may also incur a penalty for early withdrawal from your ex-spouse's qualified account. Usually this can be avoided by setting up the same type of account in your name as your ex had in his/her name. You do not need to use the same brokerage house. Please consider consulting a tax professional on this as we do not provide tax advice.