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How is a CALSTRS Retirement Account Divided In a San Diego Divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2021 | Divorce

How is a CALSTRS retirement account divided in a San Diego divorce?  The California State Teachers Retirement System (CALSTRS) provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California teachers and their spouses and children.  CALSTRS manages pension funds for school districts, community colleges, regional occupational programs and other offices of education. With over 800,000 members CALSTRS is considered to be one of the largest retirement systems in the world

As Carlsbad divorce attorneys with decades of experience we can tell you all retirement benefits accrued during the marriage are community property and, absent an agreement to the contrary, must be divided equally upon divorce.  Therefore, a CALSTRS retirement account is to be divided and the defined benefits and defined contributions made by one of the spouses from the date of the marriage to the date of separation all must be equally divided.

This is not an emotional issue; it is a practical community property issue.  While the pay out of the actual benefits is not available for years, spouses of a CALSTRS member are still entitled to a division of the benefits accumulated during the years of the marriage.

How is a CALSTRS retirement account divided in a divorce? These pension funds are controlled by both the Family Code and the Education Code and technical requirements must be met or you risk losing the entitlements and your half of the pension.  There are two ways in which a CALSTRS retirement account may be divided:

The “Time Rule Order” may be used before the member retires or while they are receiving benefits.  This option provides considerations for service credits and provides additional options not found in the other option.

A “Segregation Order” is usually employed if the member has not yet claimed retirement or disability benefits.  Like most Qualified Domestic Retirement Orders (QDROs) this option basically divides the account equally and creates a new account for the spouse of the account holder.  This new account provides full access to CALSTRS as if the new account holder was a member of CALSTRS.

If the retirement benefits are properly handled a spouse will be entitled to a retirement monthly payment when they attain a specific age.

The Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq can help you preserve your rights and work to ensure an equal division of community property under the law.  Division of retirement benefits in a divorce is entirely separate and does not have any relationship to custody, visitation or child issues. If you have specific concerns 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.

Based in Carlsbad, we handle CALSTRS divorce cases throughout San Diego County