Joinder of Specific Retirement Plans

Dividing retirement plans in a divorce proceeding is an important step in finalizing a divorce and separating assets. What many people are not aware of is that in some cases a joinder of retirement plans to the dissolution action may be necessary. What exactly does joinder mean? When you join the retirement plan, you are including the employee benefit plan as a party to the divorce proceeding. The joinder process serves to notify the plan of the non-member’s interest in that plan under Cal. Fam. Code § 755. This is especially important when you consider the downfalls of not joining a plan. For instance, if a benefit plan is not joined and the plan’s administrator is not aware of the non-employee spouse’s interest, withdrawals could occur which would be to the non-employee spouse’s detriment. Joining the plan would restrain the plan administrator from making benefit payments to employee spouse pending the determination and disposition of non-employee spouse’s interest in employee’s benefits under the plan. Joining the plan would also require the plan administrator to notify the non-employee spouse when benefits under the plan first become payable to employee. It also requires the plan administrator to make payment to the non-employee spouse of their interest in the employee’s benefits under the plan when they become payable to employee.

In addition, many government plans require joinder before they will honor an order per Fam. Code § 2060 (b) which states “An order or judgment in the proceeding is not enforceable against an employee benefit plan unless the plan has been joined as a party to the proceeding.”

There are specific forms you must file with the court in order to successfully join the retirement accounts.

At Mello & Pickering, LLP, we handle many divorce cases which require joinder of retirement plans. We are able to help parties determine which specific plans require joinder to the divorce proceeding. Call as at (408) 288-7800 to set up a free 20 minute telephone conference, or schedule a one hour in person meeting to discuss your options.