A joinder is a powerful set of documents that serves as notification to a retirement/pension plan of a family law court case, joins the plan to the case, and freezes a member’s account. If you are wondering if CalPERS requires a Joinder, review the following general guidelines.
As a party to your family law case, CalPERS has guidelines and orders to follow as directed by the court.
California Court’s requirement for Joinder – According to California’s RETIREMENT PLAN JOINDER—INFORMATION SHEET (FL-318-INFO) a joinder is required for Governmental plan of a state, county, public school or university, or other public agency. Within the example box of such plans, CalPERS is listed as a type of plan that falls under this category. Clearly on the form, next to the CalPERS plan listed the court does require a Joinder for CalPERS. You can view the courts information sheet here.
CalPERS Requirement for a Joinder – With CalPERS, a joinder can serve different purposes during a division of accounts (QDRO). A Joinder can serve as notice of interest in a CalPERS member’s account and is sufficient to have CalPERS place a “Claim” against an account. This is one way that CalPERS accepts claims against accounts. When looking further down the processing road of the QDRO, CalPERS does specifically say “A nonmember spouse has the right to file a community property claim against a member’s CalPERS retirement benefits at any time. However, CalPERS cannot be legally bound to enforce a court order to divide a member’s benefits unless we are made a party to the divorce action using the joinder process”, found in CalPERS “A Guide to CalPERS Community Property”
So CalPERS states, they are not bound to use your court order (QDRO) if they were not joined. So if you wanted your QDRO to be processed and enforced by CalPERS, they require a joinder. There are some cases where this requirement is waived by CalPERS as listed in their guide, link found above, and most common is if your divorce is filed outside the State of California.
In closing, with regards to California Courts and CalPERS, a joinder is almost always required to process your QDRO with CalPERS.
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