How to Divide Retirement Savings in a California Divorce


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 a 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 Family Law Advocacy Group, 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 attorney 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.

Share To: