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Community Property & Pension Plans

When it comes to a divorce, the division of property can often be one of the main areas that need to be addressed. States divide up their property in different manners and in California the division is done on the basis of community property. This generally views property that was acquired during the marriage as community property, or belonging to both parties. Separate property will typically include anything gained prior to the marriage. It can also include certain property that may have been retained during the marriage, such as through an inheritance or a gift specific to one spouse.

While many assets will be divided evenly, some may wonder what happens to a pension plan during this process. A pension plan or other means of employee benefit plans will be handled in a similar manner. The profit that was retained during the marriage will be considered community property and therefore belonging to the two parties. How should this then be divided? One way is through a cash out and this includes having the present value of the plan reviewed by a professional. Once it is known what the value of the plan is, the employed spouse can keep their pension while the other spouse gains assets that equal a similar value.

The more commonly used option for how to handle pension plans is through reservation of jurisdiction. This is when the court orders that a percentage of each check be paid by the working spouse to the other spouse upon retirement. If the working spouse does not retire at the earliest point that they are able to, then the other spouse can still request to be paid rather than waiting until they do retire. To find out more about the specifics of your case, contact our Woodland Hills divorce lawyer today.