Once its plenary power has expired, a trial court cannot change the substantive property division stated in a final Texas divorce decree. It does, however, retain the power to clarify or enforce that property division. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) is a post-divorce enforcement order and therefore cannot change the property division. A QDRO can, however, specify how the property division can be carried out, without altering the substantive property division. If the QDRO substantively alters the property division, then it is void and may be amended to comport with the division in the decree. A wife recently challenged a clarification order addressing the division of the husband’s 401(k).
According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties executed a mediated settlement agreement (“MSA”) that incorporated a spreadsheet dividing the marital estate. That spreadsheet indicated the parties would each receive half of $92,916.50 from the 401(k).
The final decree incorporated the MSA by reference and ordered the parties “to do all things necessary to effectuate” it. The decree awarded the husband the entire balance of the 401(k) “as reflected on [the spreadsheet]” except for the part awarded to the wife by the decree.