California is a “community property” state. This means that
all assets, savings, and debts acquired during a marriage must be divided
equally. Retirement savings are also equally distributed, but can be more
complicated. Because there are different retirement plans allotted to
individuals, there are different rules when it comes to how to allocate
the sums after a divorce. California rules generally establish that any
fund put into a retirement plan during a marriage is considered community
property. That means both parties have access to the savings.
Anything accrued in your retirement savings before or after the marriage
qualifies as separate property. This amount belongs solely to the spouse
who contributed. With pension plans, a spouse has the opportunity to “buy
out” the other spouse by paying for their section of the pension
benefits. In order to do so, the parties must determine the value of the
retirement plan, which may not be available until the individual retires.
In cases where a spouse has claim to the other spouse’s retirement
savings, a QDRO must be filed. Most retirement plans are subject to this
order. QDRO stands for qualified domestic relations order. This court
order allows the implementation of retirement division. You cannot receive
your portion of the money until this order is filed with the court. The
QDRO also allocates the tax implications of a retirement plan.
At James D. Madden, Attorney at Law, we understand the complexity of retirement
plans and how to divide them in the case of a divorce. It can be difficult
to determine how much a spouse is owed and to what percent of the plan
they have access. If you and your spouse are dissolving your marriage,
our Rancho Cucamonga divorce attorneys can help you. We have extensive
knowledge about marital finances and can help represent your interests
during a divorce. Call our legal team today to schedule
a free consultation.