Divorce

Pursuant to California law, if you are a member of Merced County Employees' Retirement Association (MCERA) while you are married or partnered, your retirement benefits may be considered community property and your spouse/partner may be entitled to an interest in the community property portion of your retirement benefit.

Upon a dissolution filing, it is essential that you notify MCERA as soon as possible. If not, you could face long delays in the payment of your future or current retirement benefits, including contribution refunds, upon termination of employment.


What to Do


As soon as possible, provide MCERA with the entire copy of the Domestic Relations Order (DRO) and, if there is one, the Settlement Agreement. The Dissolution of Marriage/Domestic Partnership document confirms the termination of the relationship. Depending on any property disposition ordered by the court, your ex-spouse may be entitled to a share of the community property portion of your future or current pension benefit.

If Already Retired


If you are already retired, this paperwork is necessary to determine whether a named beneficiary is eligible to receive a continuance upon your death and/or if your ex-spouse is to receive a portion of your benefit.

Joinder


Whether active or retired, if any portion of your benefit is awarded to your ex-spouse, a Joinder must be filed. A Joinder is a legal document that joins MCERA as a party to the proceedings. A Domestic Relations Order (DRO) is also needed. This is a document signed both parties and their attorneys, if any, MCERA and a Superior Court judge. A DRO explains in detail many issues, including who is entitled to a benefit, and when they are entitled to receive it.


Legal Council


The disposition of retirement benefits in domestic relations proceedings involves complex marital and tax issues. MCERA advises you to seek competent legal counsel. MCERA, its agents and consultants are not authorized to give legal advice regarding a divorce. MCERA is, however, able to provide you with our Dissolution of Marriage Guidelines, which contain sample DROs. 

A sample DRO for a member that has not yet retired can be found a this link.  A sample DRO for retirees has been provided.

Beneficiary Change


Finally, regardless of your MCERA membership status, please contact MCERA to complete a beneficiary change form (PDF) to ensure that your wishes regarding your beneficiary are on file.