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CalSTRS Retirement Assets and Social Security in a San Diego Divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2022 | Community Property Division

What are the best strategies for managing CalSTRS retirement assets and Social Security in a San Diego divorce?  How will the CalSTRS retirement for California teachers be handled in a San Diego divorce case?

The division of CalSTRS retirement assets in a Carlsbad divorce case, as well as other public retirement vehicles such as CalPERS, Police Officer (PO) and Fire Fighter (FF) retirement programs, is a common issue in a San Diego divorce.  Each program has their unique methods for establishing the division of the retirement asset as part of the community property division in a Carlsbad divorce case.

The California State Teacher’s Retirement System or CalSTRS was established in the early 1900’s to provide retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California educators, their spouses and children.  The community interest in a CalSTRS retirement account is divisible during the community property division portion of a San Diego divorce.

How does CalSTRS affect Social Security?  Usually, CalSTRS replaces normal Social Security retirement benefits unless a teacher has earned eligibility for these benefits through a spousal benefit, or through work on a job before, during or after their teaching career.

It is important to give consideration to the California “Windfall Elimination Program” when considering the division of CalSTRS assets in the presence of a Social Security benefit.

There is another important issue associated with CalSTRS retirement assets and Social Security in a San Diego divorce.  Here in California, the primary Social Security benefits of an employed spouse of a teacher are considered to be the separate property of that spouse.  In this example, when both of the employed spouses contributed to or qualified for retirement (STRS and Social Security severally) the teacher would be required to divide their own CalSTRS retirement with their spouse, while their spouse is able to keep all of their own Social Security benefits.

This may not seem fair to many people, but it is the present law in the State of California.  It is possible to protect these interests in a prenuptial (prior to the marriage) or postnuptial agreement (after the date of the marriage) and it is a prudent step to consider for all California teachers.  Planning can be an important component of preparing for a potential divorce if you are a California teach with CalSTRS assets and your spouse has no other retirement assets than Social Security.  If that spouse has their own 401(k)(s) or other retirement assets they may also be divisible during the property division portion of  your divorce case.  This is why it is so important to seek the advice and counsel of the proven, experienced Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq.

Learn specific strategies about CalSTRS retirement assets and Social Security in a San Diego divorce.  We invite you to review the strong recommendations of former clients and the legal industry, protect your interests and contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment for a safe, confidential and private consultation with one of our experienced and proven Certified Family Law Specialists.