Key Considerations in QCCO Cases

Key Considerations in QCCO Cases

Judges are generally very well versed in procedure and the substantive area of domestic relations, but no one is an expert in all subject areas of family law. The subject of retirement by Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order (QILDRO) is often underappreciated, misunderstood or glossed over by many practitioners, including Judges.

It was recently suggested to me by a rightfully well-respected Judge that I put together a presentation of the most common things to be on the lookout for in QILDRO and Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) cases. I wrote two blogs to organize my thoughts into what is hopefully a helpful bullet point list  on QILDRO cases, which you can find here, QDRO cases, which you can find here. This is the final blog in this “series,” addressing the second part of the QILDRO process, the QILDRO Calculation Court Order (QCCO or QCO).

General Point

A QILDRO is an Order entered by a State Court Judge dividing a retirement plan based upon a property distribution or support order, typically a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage (divorce decree), and in compliance with the Illinois Pension Code. A QCCO is a Court Order that is entered once the Member retires, when his/her final benefit amounts are known and can be plugged into the formula in the QILDRO. For those looking for more on the Illinois Pension Code (or just, the Code), click here for Section 1-119 of the Code, specifically addressing QILDRO’s and QCCO’s.

What to Consider Shortlist

Long prior to drafting a QILDRO, there is a myriad of issues to consider when drafting the Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement that directs that a QILDRO be entered, and an oversimplification, of that process, one to be applied by a practitioner (attorney or Judge), not layman, is contained in my previous blog. This blog is also aimed at practitioners, but anyone can benefit from reading it.

  • Initial Question: does the QILDRO provide for amounts to be paid.
  • Yes: the pension fund will implement the QILDRO as-is, no need for a QCCO! Tip: these are uncommon.
  • No: If the blank in the QILDRO has been filled with a percentage, we will need a QCCO:
    • the QILDRO calls for a percentage of the gross benefit, which is uncommon, or
    • the QILDRO calls for a percentage of the marital portion, which is more common and complex.


We will address the more complicated scenario first:

  1. 1. Percentage of the marital portion.
  • What is the percentage? Typically 50%, but not necessarily.
  • Look to the marital portion section of the QILDRO and determine if it is it to include permissive service/enhancements or no:
  • If yes, apply the figures as they appear in the final statement of benefits. For example, $1,000 per month at retirement with a $10,000 partial refund where the parties were married for 10 years of the Member’s participation in the pension fund and the Member participated 15 years in total, 50% of the marital portion going to the Alternate Payee or AP:
    • Monthly: 10/15 x $1,000 x 0.50 = $333.33/month for the AP
    • Partial refund: 10/15 x $10,000 x 0.50 = $3,333.33 lump sum payment for the AP
  • If no, the pension fund or an actuary may need to determine what the Member would receive without permissive service (typically unused sick days rolled into the pension upon retirement), upgrades/time purchased by the Member or any formula enhancements granted by the legislature. This amount would then be plugged into the formula per above.
  • Did the QILDRO grant the AP cost of living adjustments (COLA) on his/her share? The pension fund will adjust the monthly figures accordingly, requiring nothing in the QCCO regarding this.
  • Did the QILDRO grant the AP a share of benefits payable upon death? If yes, you may complete this section of the QCCO. The pension fund uses the contributions accumulated in the Member’s account for the monthly payments and typically, between 3-5 years after retirement all contributions are used up, leaving nothing or nearly nothing to pay upon death (the IMRF for example, has a $3,000 death benefit). Since this amount changes, the figure in the QCCO today, is no longer valid a month into pay status.
  2. 2. Percentage of the gross benefit
  • What is the percentage? Typically 50%, but not necessarily.
  • Look at the statement of benefits and apply the percentage, that is all!
For each QCCO :
  • Make sure it only grants what the QILDRO grants
  • Make certain the correct sections of the QCCO are completed: the percentage of the gross is in a different section than the percentage of the marital portion
  • If there is anything different from, or in addition to, what is in the QILDRO, is it agreed AND  will an Amended QILDRO be needed for the QCCO to be accepted by the Plan as the two must coincide?
  • Finally, has the QCCO been pre-approved by the plan? Not all, but most plans provide pre-approval as to form. Why enter a QCCO without one?


Use this list to inform your attorney or check their understanding or simply serve them as a reminder. Just like when seeing a doctor, be an active and educated client.


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