What Do I Do to Protect My Community Interest In PERS and STRS RETIREMENT PLANS?

Q. What should I consider to ensure that I have a claim in my husband's teacher's retirement plan once he files for divorce?

A. CalPERS (PERS) is the California Public Employee's Retirement System. California Government Code sections 20000 to 21703 describe it. This includes all kinds of California state employees including police officers, firefighters, emergency services employees, and other public safety employees as well as university teachers, professors, and other professionals.

CalSTRS (STRS) is the State Teachers' Retirement System, which is governed by California Education Code sections 22000-25115.

Both require a joinder pursuant to Family Code section 2060 as a condition to complying with an order against the plan, and they are generally cooperative in facilitating this. Likewise, most other municipal plans require joinder and cooperate with parties who are attempting to accomplish it.

In order to protect your rights, we recommend that you not only serve the Joinder Summons and related pleadings (see our Family Law Forms Library page) but that you also give written notice, by certified mail, on the Plan per Family Code section 755.

The joinder process for those California employee benefits that you can join is easy. The forms you need are the

It is important to name the plan correctly. The plan is a separate entity from the employer. Next, they do need to be properly served per FC section 2062.

Within 30 days the plan must respond by a Notice of Appearance. However, they rarely do. If they fail to, the clerk must enter their default. As a practical matter, the Plan will likely accept the order of the court or any settlement you reach thereafter so long as it meets the plan administrator's requirements.

Thurman W. Arnold III, CFLS