How is an STRS retirement account divided in a divorce in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista or North County? We were recently asked: “My wife works as a teacher for the Carlsbad school district and I think she has a California STRS retirement plan. I have been working on and off throughout our marriage and have about $20,000 in an IRA account. We have been married for 16 years and she says her retirement is not available until she is 55 years old so I am not entitled to any of it since she is only 42 years old. Yet, she wants half of my IRA account because it was all deposited before we separated. That doesn’t seem fair. What should I do?”
Our experienced California Family Law Certified Specialist attorneys can tell you all retirement benefits accrued during the marriage are community property and, absent an agreement to the contrary, must be divided equally upon divorce. The IRA account is to be divided and the defined benefits and defined contributions made by your wife to the State Teachers Retirement System all must be equally divided in a divorce.
This is not an emotional issue; it is a practical business issue. Public school teachers in California have a retirement plan called STRS [State Teachers Retirement System]. Even though the pay out of the benefits is not available for years, you are still entitled to a division of the benefits she accumulated during the years of the marriage. If the retirement benefits are properly handled, then you will be entitled to a retirement monthly payment when you attain a certain age. The division of the plan benefits are controlled by both the Family Code and the Education Code and technical requirements must be met or you risk losing the entitlements and your one half.
The experienced family law and divorce attorneys at Burke & Domercq can help you preserve your rights interests. Division of retirement benefits in a divorce often has nothing to do with child custody and visitation or spousal support issues. Contact us or call 760-712-3741 to schedule an appointment to learn more about the question “How is an STRS retirement account divided in a divorce?” and other important issues in your case.