Since California is a community property state, a former spouse may be entitled to a percentage (usually 50%) of your Retirement Plan benefits that are attributable to the time you were married and contributing to the Plan. If you are dissolving your marriage, you should contact the Retirement Section for clarification of your benefits. The Retirement Plan Office will follow the division of Plan benefits that is ordered by the Court, consistent with the terms of the Plan. It is recommended that the Retirement Plan Office review the property settlement dividing your retirement benefits before it is filed with the Court.

Most of the time, a calculation known as the Time-Rule Formula is used to determine your ex-spouse’s community property interest in your Plan benefits. The community property portion is determined by dividing the period of time that you are an active contributing member of the Plan while married by the total period of time that you are a member at the time of distribution. The percentage of benefits owed to your ex-spouse is one half of the community property portion.

The Retirement Plan Office will require a copy of your dissolution judgment and/or property settlement dividing your retirement benefits to comply with the Order.  In addition, if your divorce was finalized in California, the Plan must be joined in your dissolution proceedings.  (For out-of-state orders, the Plan will provide a waiver to be signed by the member.)

If you are divorcing, please call the Retirement Section at (213) 367-1715 and ask to speak with a Divorce Counselor.  The division of your Plan benefits can be complicated, and there are many issues that you should consider.