Good thoughts / advice but there are a few clarifications needed to avoid over simplification or broad generalization.
The 401k provider is required to accept QDRO's -- but not willy nilly. A QDRO must be consistent with the 401k Plan Provisions. A court cannot just direct them to do anything, it is governed by the 401k plan rules. The 401k plan can reject any state court order to do somethign inconsistent with plan provisions, which are filed with and regulated by the Federal government.
Generally speaking in practice the QDRO will will direct the 401k balance to be split. Most plan documents direct the monies to be allocated in a different account within the 401k. At that point, plan provisions come into play. The 'new" owner, in this case the ex, the ex can withdrawal and put in an IRA, or the plan provisions may require the withdrawal, or whereever.
Generally speaking, the 10% penalty can be avoided if the disbursements/ownership changes are carried out within the context of a divorce decree. If it's much, be sure to talk to an accountant.
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