Law Offices of Indu Srivastav, APLC
Experienced Family Law Attorney Serving Southern California
Call Today! 714-515-5008

What happens to pension plans in a California divorce?

Divorce proceedings are complex enough, but even more so when you figure in high assets. Perhaps the highest asset in these cases is the pension plan. Its value and regulations make it the most complicated aspect of divorce.

Although your attorney will handle the division of your pension plan, it is still wise to understand how divorce will affect your retirement so you can prepare accordingly.

California law on community property

As with most other assets, any contributions you make to your pension plan during the marriage make that portion of the account joint property. Upon divorce, division of the money will be equal (50/50), not equitable as in some other states, unless you two can come to some other agreement. For example, you may agree that you get to keep the pension plan in exchange for your spouse receiving another valuable asset.

Necessary documents for splitting pension plans

The complexity of this one asset requires specific documents for dividing the benefits.

  • Retirement Plan Joinder: This form makes the management organization of the plan a party in the divorce. Only specific plans require the completion of this step.
  • Qualified Domestic Relations Order: A QDRO is the document outlining how the court has divided the pension plan and applies to private plans.
  • Domestic Relations Order: DROs differ in that they are for state and federal public plans.

Opportunities for mistakes abound, as pension plans can be as unique as the couples that are splitting them. The division phase is likely to involve other professionals to ensure accuracy, fairness and validity so you do not face any issues once the divorce is final.

Importance of timeliness

You must have the QDRO/DRO done before the divorce is over for maximum protection. Otherwise, your spouse may still be able to access the funds or inherit the account if you pass away. For this reason, remember to update your estate plans during divorce as well.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information


Law Offices of Indu Srivastav, APLC
1400 N. Harbor Blvd., Suite 601
Fullerton, CA 92835

Phone: 714-515-5008
Fax: 714-515-8338
Map & Directions