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Is CalSTRS Retirement for Teachers Community Property in a Divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2020 | Community Property Division

Is CalSTRS retirement for teachers community property in a Carlsbad or San Diego divorce?  How will a CalSTRS teacher’s retirement account be handled in your divorce?

We are often asked about the disposition of a teacher’s retirement account at CalSTRS.  The California State Teacher’s Retirement System was established in 1913 to provide disability, retirement and survivor benefits for California teachers, as well as their spouses and children.  CalSTRS replaces Social Security benefits unless the teacher has become eligible for those benefits through a job before, after or outside of their teaching career.

Those who are receiving CalSTRS and who are also receiving Social Security (on their own or as a part of a spouse’s benefits) may see part of their benefits offset (reduced) by a government pension offset or the Windfall Elimination Program.

Is CalSTRS retirement for teachers community property in a divorce?  Yes.  This is different from Social Security benefits.  In California, primary Social Security benefits of an employed spouse are considered to be the separate property of that spouse.  So if both spouses were employed during the course of their marriage the teacher would usually have to divide their CalSTRS retirement for teachers community property with their spouse, while their spouse is able to keep all of their own Social Security benefits.

California teachers should consider a prenuptial agreement if they are considering a marriage, and a post-nuptial agreement if they are already married.  While it does not seem fair that the teacher has to give up half of their accumulated retirement in a divorce while their spouse gets to keep their own Social Security benefits in addition to their community property share of the CalSTRS retirement benefits that is the present law.

This is why it is important to work with the experienced Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq.  We will work with you to provide sound counsel and develop a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement to protect your retirement as a teacher.  If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand what makes CalSTRS retirement for teachers community property in a divorce and work with our proven legal team to develop appropriate strategies to accomplish your goals.

Protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.