Divorce & Your Pension
Facts About Community Property
In California, all types of retirement benefits are considered community property, which allows CalPERS benefits to be divided upon a dissolution of marriage or registered domestic partnership or legal separation.
For CalPERS purposes, community property is the contributions you made and the service credit you accrued and/or purchased during your marriage or domestic partnership. Generally, your former spouse's community property interest may be up to 50 percent of your pension benefit.
We won't release pension benefits to you or your former spouse until the community property claim is resolved.
For retirees: One-half of your monthly allowance is held until the claim is resolved.
More information about community property is available in A Guide to CalPERS Community Property (PUB 38A) (PDF), CalPERS Model Domestic Relations Orders (PUB 38B) (PDF), and Facts About Community Property (PDF).
Your former spouse or their attorney can place a community property claim against your CalPERS pension at any time.
These are the steps to resolve your community property claim:
CalPERS benefits are held.
The parties must choose and agree on how the CalPERS pension benefit will be divided.
- If you're not retired, there are two methods to divide the benefits.
- If you're a retiree, there is only one method to choose.
Submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to CalPERS with the proposed language explaining how the CalPERS benefits will be divided.
Within 60 days, CalPERS will review the draft QDRO and let the parties know if we can accept the order as written or if changes need to be made.
After CalPERS approves the QDRO, file the order with the court. Any party can do this — you, your former spouse, or an attorney.
Send CalPERS a copy of the filed QDRO. Within 60 days, CalPERS will review the filed QDRO to ensure the language is acceptable.
CalPERS benefits are released.
Once CalPERS determines the filed QDRO is acceptable, the claim is resolved, and benefits can be released.
- If you have a retirement application on file, allow 60 days from either your retirement application received date or retirement date, whichever is later, to start receiving your benefits.
- If you're a retiree, allow 60 days for your monthly benefit to be adjusted.
- If you're still working, the community property claim remains on your account until you retire.
One of the methods used to calculate your former spouse's community property interest is the "time rule formula."
See the following example:
Your pension benefit.
Divide the service credit from date of marriage until date of separation by your total service credit.
Multiply by your pension benefit.
Multiply the total by 50%.
The $1,800 per month is your former spouse's community property interest.
We're Here to Help
Call us at 888 CalPERS (888-225-7377).
We can't provide legal advice or recommend a specific division method, but we can offer guidance through our publications.
- Beneficiary Designation
- CalPERS Long-Term Care
- Deferred Compensation
- Member Education
- Name or Address Changes
- Social Security Administration
Forms & Publications
- CalPERS Model Domestic Relations Orders (PUB 38B) (PDF)
- CalPERS Special Power of Attorney (PUB 30) (PDF)
- Changing Your Beneficiary or Monthly Benefit After Retirement (PUB 98) (PDF)
- Community Property (PUB 38A) (PDF)
- Facts About Community Property (PDF)
- Pre-Retirement Lump Sum Beneficiary Designation (PDF)
- Tax Withholding Election (PDF)