California is a community property state, which means that your
former spouse or registered
domestic partner may have a “community property interest” in
the VCERA benefits you earned during marriage. A family law court
will usually provide direction on how these retirement benefits
shall be divided. It is critical that your court-filed judgment
of dissolution or legal separation clearly identifies your VCERA
benefits and how they will be divided among the parties. If a
division is required by the court, VCERA requires a court-filed
Domestic Relations Order (DRO) to divide and pay benefits.*
Without a valid DRO on file, VCERA cannot process your retirement
or refund application.
Likewise, a joinder pleading or other notice of adverse interest
served on VCERA is, by itself, insufficient to cause VCERA to
withhold retirement benefits or begin payment of benefits to a
VCERA’s procedure for resolving community property claims will
depend on whether the DRO orders a member and former spouse to
share a benefit or whether the member’s account will be split
into two separate accounts, subject to the provisions of Article
8.4 of the County
Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937 and VCERA’s
Community Property Division Policy.
To ensure your court order contains the required information,
VCERA’s General Counsel can review your draft language before it
is finalized. However, this review is no substitute for
professional legal counsel. In addition, VCERA can supply
documentation about the service credit and accumulated
contributions you earned during the community property period.
This information can be particularly helpful during the early
phase of the dissolution proceedings. Lastly, VCERA staff can
provide DRO templates to assist in your court filing.
For more information on the process of dividing community
property, please review the
Divorce & Your VCERA Benefits booklet and contact VCERA.
* Divorce may affect how some disability retirement benefits are
calculated for a former spouse. Please contact VCERA for more
** If VCERA receives a joinder pleading or other notice of
adverse interest from a former spouse claiming a community
property interest in the monthly benefit of a retired member,
VCERA will continue paying an undivided benefit to the retiree
until a valid court order or stipulation from the parties is