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In this video we discuss when you are required to join a retirement plan to your divorce action and how you accomplish the joinder. “Joinder” means to make the retirement plan a party to your divorce case. Some retirement plan require you to join them to the divorce case before they will honor a QDRO.
Ed: Do I have to join the retirement plan to my divorce action before the retirement plan will abide by the terms of my QDRO?
Christina: Usually, you do not have to worry about joinder. However, most retirement plans that are associated with a California public entity, for example, a retirement that was earned by working for a city, a county, the State of California or some other public entity in California, will not honor a QDRO unless the public entity has been made a party to the divorce action. This means you have to “join” the retirement plan to your divorce case.
Ed: How do I go about joining the retirement plan to my divorce case?
Christina: You accomplish the joinder by completing three Judicial Council forms, filing those forms with the court clerk, and then mailing filed-endorsed copies of the forms, together with a blank “Notice of Appearance” form, to the retirement plan administrator. The required forms are as follows:
- Request For Joinder Of Employee Benefit Plan And Order (FL-372).
- Pleading On Joinder – Employee Benefit Plan (FL-370).
- Summons (Joinder) FL-375.
- Notice of Appearance And Response Of Employee Benefit Plan (FL-374).
Ed: Can I find copies of all of those forms in the court forms database on our website?
Christina: Yes. Not only can you find the blank forms to fill out, but our website also has completed versions of the forms that you can look at as examples.
Ed: After I fill out the joinder forms and file the forms with the court, do I need to serve the joinder forms on the plan administrator?
Christina: Yes. However, you do not need to have a process server formally serve the joinder forms on the plan administrator. You only have to mail them to the administrator. A good practice is to fill out the joinder papers, file them with the court clerk, and mail them to the plan administrator at the same time you send the administrator the certified copy of your QDRO. The retirement plan administrator won’t file the Notice of Appearance with the court. The administrator will not actually “appear” in your divorce case. You just have to jump through the hoop of joining the retirement plan to the divorce action as part of the process of getting the government retirement plan to honor your QDRO.
Ed: If I am dealing with retirement assets offered by the United States Government, such as a FERS pension or a TSP account, do I have to join the federal retirement plan to my divorce action?
Christina: No. The United States government does not require the joinder process. Nor do most non-government retirement plan administrators. If you or your spouse earned your retirement benefits by working for the federal government or by working for a private company, you will not need to bother with the joinder pleadings.