Get Your Colorado QDRO Completed Early to Protect Your Asset
One obvious reason to get your QDRO done as early as possible is to prevent a permanent rejection by the plan administrator because you have waited too long to do the QDRO. For example, Colorado PERA and some other Colorado government agencies (such as the City of Denver and the Colorado Police & Fireman's Union) will not accept a QDRO later than 90 days after the date of the Decree.
If a pension is being divided with a QDRO, and you wait until after the Participant has gone into pay status, then you can no longer do a Separate Interest pension QDRO. Thus, by being forced into a Shared Interest pension QDRO, you are getting less than you should get.
And in some cases, I have been unable to do a QDRO after the divorce case has been concluded for some time because the Participant terminated employment and withdrew all of the money. There was nothing left to divide.
Your Relationship With Your X-Spouse Will Deteriorate As Time Passes
In almost all cases, the Participant will be less cooperative as time passes. After a period of months or years after the Decree date, my experience is that the Participant gains some confidence that the QDRO cannot be done after the passage of time. Then he or she refuses to cooperate, including refuses to sign the QDRO so that it can be submitted for approval by the Judge. (You can usually get help with a Rule 70 Motion and Order.)
The most cooperative time period for a divorcing couple is prior to the date of the Decree. Get the QDRO done as soon as you can, preferably before the Decree date.
If you end up in a contested hearing, then ask the Judge to order the completion of the QDRO to occur within 60 days, more or less.
Account Records Get Lost
Federal law requires that retirement plan administrators keep records for the prior 18 months. So, you may be out of luck if more than 18 months has passed and you don't know what the proper account balance was and you have no way of knowing what the earnings and losses have been since the date of the Decree. Also, sometimes records are not available even if less than 18 months has passed where the record keeper has changed. For example if 6 months ago the account records were transfered from Fidelity to a life insurance company (this is common today) then the life insurance company will take the position that it only has records dating back 6 months. And it is up to you to determine the applicable prior account balance and earnings/losses. Then you have another needless dispute to deal with.
So - get your QDRO done as soon as you can. Delays can be very costly.