What happens to CalSTRS and CalPERS pensions in a San Diego divorce? What does a teacher, a public employee and/or their spouse need to know about how these accounts will be managed during property division in a divorce?
Generally speaking, all debts and assets obtained by either or both parties from the date of the marriage until the date of separation are to be considered community property in the context of a divorce. Community property is to be equally divided between the parties.
In the absence of an enforceable agreement to the contrary, the contributions made by a spouse during the marriage, defined plan benefits and associated compounding or growth are going to be considered as community property. The benefit of these plans and associated payouts may not have begun, and may actually be years in the future. However, each former spouse is entitled to a division of the community’s interest in the benefits of CalSTRS and CalPERS pensions in a San Diego divorce.
Public pensions can represent some of the largest assets if not the largest asset in a San Diego divorce. This is why it is so important to work with the experienced, proven Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq. A single mistake could literally cost you a substantial sum of money, literally tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The order of the Court itself is not enough to split CalSTRS and CalPERS pensions in a San Diego divorce. The plan administrator will require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) which is specific to the pension in question. These documents must be legally precise and contain instructions accepted by the pension plan. CalSTRS and CalPERS also require a “joinder” as part of the process. In essence, the non-member must “join” the plan as a party due to the divorce. The QDRO and Joinder must be carefully crafted to protect our clients interests and ensure fulfillment of the Court’s orders regarding property division of these retirement assets.
Each plan has other options for the non-member spouse which should be reviewed and evaluated prior to selection of the final process for dividing the CalSTRS or CalPERS account. This is especially true if the account holder has already retired or retires during the process of the divorce.
How will you protect the substantial financial interests associated with these retirement pensions in your own divorce? We invite you to review the strong recommendations of former clients and the legal industry, protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment for a safe, confidential and private consultation with one of our experienced and proven Certified Family Law Specialists.