Santa Clarita Divorce : STRS & PERS Pensions Must Be Listed On Judgment
Whenever you are going through a divorce in California, part of the process is first disclosing your assets and debts which will ultimately end up on a judgment or marital settlement agreement.
What a lot of people think is that when an asset is in their name only, that it does not count or does not need to be listed. This happens a lot of times when people call me and say they have no assets or debts “together”. What they are saying is that they do have assets and debts, but that they are only in each of their names, and not together.
(Watch video or continue reading below)
But what they are not aware of is how California’s community property laws work. Essentially, community property is anything that was acquired during the marriage (with some exceptions). What this means in plain English is that it does not matter in whose name an asset or debt is in, it depends on when it was accrued.
So speaking of pensions and STRS and PERS specifically, this is where people say they have no assets to divide, but then later i find out they have pensions. When I ask why they didn’t state this, they say, “we’ll it’s only in my name”. You can see how this is not correct.
Here is a few issues. First, you may think you don’t have to disclose a particular asset because it is in your name only. That is not how it works. When you do your disclosure, you are listing all assets and debts, community and separate.
Second, if you don’t list your assets and debts on your judgment or marital settlement agreement, then you have no court order stating who is keeping that particular asset or debt and leave yourself exposed for future issues.
Third, is specific to STRS and PERS. We had a client who forgot to list his STRS pension on his disclosures and therefore it did not end up on his judgment. When he went to call STRS (State Teacher’s Retirement System) they said that his STRS pension was not listed on the judgment. The issue this caused is that they required language in the judgment that addressed his STRS pension. Specifically, they needed the judgment to say he was being awarded 100%. Otherwise, they were not going to be able to disburse his pension upon retirement and would not allow him to change beneficiaries. You can see how this is problematic.
This was all fixed by us filing a stipulation stating he was awarded his STRS pension, but this is an issue that could have been avoided.
The short story is that if you have assets and debts, no matter in whose name, you should disclose and those assets and debts need to be confirmed to one party or the other. This will keep you safe and help avoid problems down the road.