Is your former spouse entitled to a portion of your retirement benefits?

Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi A Professional Law Corporation Retirement Division

Some couples decide to end their relationship later in life. If you find yourself in this situation, you may wonder if your former spouse has a claim on a portion of your retirement benefits. Whether you are a giver or a receiver, it is important you contact a Thousand Oaks retirement division attorney and ask about how divorce can impact your retirement benefits.

Division of retirement plans in California

The property you and your former spouse owned before you got married is considered separate property in California, which means it won’t be divided after getting divorced. However, contributions you or your former spouse made during the marriage are considered community property, which means you may have to share it with your ex.

Retirement benefits are often considered one of the most costly assets. Sometimes, retirement benefits are worth more than several marital assets combined. Some retirement benefits such as pensions are viewed as community property, which is generally divided between divorce parties 50/50. A few factors will be considered when dividing these benefits such as the date of separation, and what’s deemed community property up until that time. Retirement benefits include 401k, IRAs, and Employee Stock Option Plans. However, Social Security benefits, worker’s comp, and compensation for military injuries are not considered community property. These benefits should be addressed in the Divorce Settlement Agreement.

When retirement plans are divided through a divorce, some forms will need to be filed. Your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will include the marital assets distributed between you and your former spouse. However, the QDRO will be filled only after the divorce judgment was entered. Community property is divided 50/50 but you and your ex can agree to something entirely different, including a different percentage. The QDRO may include the following retirement plans:

  • Thrifty saving plans and 401 K
  • Profit sharing plans and stocks
  • Tax-sheltered annuity (TSA)
  • 403 b plan

Some retirement benefits can be divided differently between the parties. Ask a Thousand Oaks retirement division attorney about your options. In some cases, the unemployed spouse can receive a percentage of the former spouse’s pension. The percentage is calculated based on the number of years they were married.

Sometimes a party wishes to join a pension if the process was not included in the plan. Once the retirement plan is joined in the divorce, the plan is locked. Joining the plan can help avoid future problems such as one of the spouses withdrawing funds from the plan, or getting a loan against the benefits.

If you need help dividing your retirement benefits during a divorce, contact us today and schedule a case review with family law attorney Stephanie L. Mahdavi. We can help you prepare the forms you need and divide your marital assets in a way that will benefit you and your family. Retirement benefits can complicate your divorce. We want to make the whole process less complicated for you.

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