Life brings many changes. To name a few: changes in sleeping
patterns; changes in eating patterns; and changes in finances.
One change that some of us may face, is divorce or
state-registered domestic partnership dissolution. When that
happens, your ACERA benefits may be impacted.
Your Ex-Spouse/Partner May Seek Division of Your Retirement
If your marriage or state-registered domestic partnership
overlapped with your ACERA service, there is certainly a chance
that your spouse/partner (soon to be ex-spouse/partner) will seek
a division of your ACERA benefit monthly retirement allowance, so
as to distribute his/her community property from that payment.
The division and distribution of community property from your
ACERA benefit is something ACERA has experience with.
ACERA Only Shares Your Information With Your Authorization
The first thing to remember is, ACERA will not share your member
information with anyone you have not authorized us to share it
with. This means that even if you hire an attorney, actuary, or
work with a mediator or facilitator, ACERA will not communicate
with those persons or otherwise share information with those
persons about your retirement benefits. In simple terms, your
member records are confidential by Government Code section 31532
and ACERA will not release information unless you provide written
(signed) authorization for that communication. You can use
the Authorization to Release Information Form to provide that authorization. Fill
this out, sign it and return it to us. This is the only way we
will communicate with a third party about your ACERA benefits.
Getting a Written Property Estimate
The next thing to remember is that ACERA can provide you with a
written community property estimate. This is an analysis and
calculation of the amount your ex-spouse is eligible to receive
as his or her distribution of community property, from your ACERA
monthly retirement allowance. You can request this by completing
and returning ACERA’s Community Property Estimate Form.
A Few Steps You Should Consider
If you file for divorce, you may want to consider taking the
Contact an independent attorney experienced in family law
Act quickly to prevent delay in processing your retirement
when you are ready to retire.
The Court May Make a Decision Regarding Your Retirement Benefits
In the event of your divorce or dissolution of state-registered
domestic partnership, a court order may be made concerning your
retirement benefits. For example, the court may issue a
judgment in which community property interests in your retirement
benefits are awarded to your ex-spouse, when the parties do not
agree in writing in the final court judgment that your ACERA
benefits are your sole and separate property.
If it is determined by the court or through an agreement between
you and your ex-spouse/partner that ACERA benefits will be
divided, two methods of payment are available:
Separate Accounts - (This option is only
available if you divorce or dissolve your domestic partnership
before retirement.) This method divides the community property,
including accumulated contributions, interest, and service
credit, into two separate accounts, one for you and one for
your spouse/partner. This option is not available after ACERA
has begun retirement benefit payments to a member.
Shared Accounts - Under this method, the
account itself is not divided, however, the benefit payments
are divided between you and your spouse/partner after you
ACERA Needs Copies of Your Documents
The last thing we want to tell you is that you will need to share
legal documents with ACERA, as well as complete certain legal
documents that will become court orders when executed by the
judge/court and filed in the divorce proceeding. A thorough
description and explanation of those documents can be found in
the Divorce and ACERA Benefits Memo. But these documents include:
The judgment of divorce
All attachments such as marital settlement agreements and
If you get divorced or dissolve your domestic partnership prior
to retirement, ACERA will need to have copies of the above
documents on file BEFORE we can process your retirement.
We’re Here For You
In closing, retirement brings many changes. After years and
years of work, your ability to adapt to change has already been
tested. You can handle the marital status change with some help,
support, and encouragement. If you’ve read
the Divorce and ACERA Benefits Memo and have additional questions, ACERA
has staff who can explain any of the documents and forms on
our website relating to divorce and its impact on your ACERA
benefits. Call us and ask to speak
to the Legal Department regarding divorce.