Six Reasons Why We Are the Best Pension Division Attorneys in Sacramento.
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Sacramento Pension Division Attorney
While figuring out the specifics of divorce is difficult in every aspect, finances are a subject that has consistently caused the most stress and conflict. Whether the couple is dividing personal belongings, figuring out who will pay child support, or calculating their debts, some of the foulest arguments have arisen from money. Deciding how pensions will be divided during a divorce is no exception. However, we do not want you to have to go down this tumultuous path. Rather, we want you to be able to comfortably retire on schedule instead of working several more long and strenuous years following your divorce. If you are heading into the pension division portion of your divorce, our attorneys can help you decipher the formulas, community and separate property laws, and complex negotiations that take place. We know how stressful it can be to be in a position where you can lose a huge portion of the funds you carefully put away for retirement, and we want to mitigate the negative outcomes as much as possible so that you can work toward a peaceful and fulfilling future. However, while we do outline some general information on pension divisions in California below, please do not take this as legal advice. Rather, contact our Sacramento law firm for a Free Case Evaluation about your pension division situation to receive customized legal information.
How Are Pensions Divided in Divorce in Sacramento, California?
Pensions or retirement funds, while often brushed aside by couples considering a divorce, can actually make up an overwhelming portion of your assets (sometimes amounting to more than your total assets combined). Thus, it is especially important to consult with an attorney who not only has handled pension divisions within Sacramento courts before, but who has extensive financial experience. This will ensure that all formulas are calculated right, that the pensions, benefits, and retirement funds are documented accurately, and that you end up with the amount of money that you rightfully deserve.
Property Settlements and Pension Division Agreements During Divorce
Typically, pension division is roped into property division during divorces. Thus, when you sign off on a property division settlement, there will often be a portion devoted solely to the pension division agreement. However, pension division still follows its own distinct procedure since, as mentioned before, the monetary values of pensions are hefty. There are a couple different ways in which you can handle your own pension division. The first is through mediation. Sometimes, the judge mandates that couples attempt this route before heading to court. Mediation requires that you hire a mediator (typically a divorce lawyer in Sacramento) who will help facilitate discussions between you and your spouse where you will decide who gets what in your divorce, when and how the funds will be distributed, and any other specifics that may be personal to your situation. Do not sign off on any documents without having your pension division agreement reviewed by a divorce attorney in Sacramento. The decisions made within your pension division settlement are multifaceted, which means that they could have unforeseen repercussions in the future, which an experienced divorce attorney will be able to inform you of. We do not want this divorce to come back and haunt you as you settle down to retire in peace. Thus, we will do everything in our power to ensure that you know what to expect in the future.
Of course, some couples are unable to resolve their pension division through mediation and must go to court to have a judge divide their pension. Again, this is usually done in tandem with your property division. However, in court, it is all the more imperative to have a personal divorce attorney representing you during the hearing, so that your rights are protected. How a judge decides to divide your pension division depends on several factors, which we discuss further down in this article.
Forms for Pension Division in Sacramento, California
Although there can be several different forms you must fill out for a pension division in California, the one that is the most crucial to your case (and the one where most people make errors) is the Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or the infamous QDRO. The questions within the document will ask you about your income, employment history, pension, etc. Sounds pretty easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. There are over half a million different types of retirement plans in the United States, and each of these requires different information to be put down on the QDRO. Thus, filling this pension division paperwork out correctly will require that you completely understand your specific pension division. This is why it is so important to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about the types of pensions, benefits, and retirement plans in Sacramento, California specifically, and who has had years of financial experience filling out these documents. Not only that, but they also must have an in-depth understanding of community and separate property laws in California. Needless to say, Schank & Associates does not hire anyone onto their team who does not meet these criteria. Should you use the formula incorrectly, miss a piece of information, or misstate a detail, it could cost you tremendously years later.
Calculating Pension Divisions in California
The way pension divisions are calculated in California depends on three things specifically: community and separate property laws, the Time Rule (or “Brown”) Formula, and your individual pension or retirement plan (listed in the QDRO).
Pensions as Community Property and Separate Property
Since the state of California follows community property laws, all the assets you acquired after the date of your marriage is considered marital property (or property belonging to both you and your husband or wife). Yes, this includes the money put away to your retirement. However, a common misconception is that pension division is 50/50 (a misconception that is found in property division as well). However, only the money that was put away after you were married is split between you and your spouse. Not only that, but as we stated previously, there are over half a million different types of pensions and not all will be split the same. Instead, it depends on the specific formula used to calculate pension divisions – the “Brown” formula.
Pension Division Formula – What Is The “Brown” Formula?
This pension division formula was first created in the 1970s during Gloria and Robert Brown’s divorce. This was the first instance where a judge ruled that pensions were a part of community property and thus should be split during a divorce along with the rest of the marital assets. Thus, that judge used the Time Rule Formula. There isn’t a difference between the Time Rule Formula and the “Brown” formula, except that the latter is the informal way of referring to the Time Rule formula. Both will most likely be used interchangeably during your divorce. This formula is the reason why pensions are not divided fifty-fifty in a divorce, since it takes the number of years that the employee worked and divides it by the time that they worked during the marriage, using that to calculate the portion of money your spouse will be entitled to. As your divorce attorney, we will walk you through the specifics and show you exactly how to use the Time Rule formula to calculate your own pension division.
How to Keep Most of Your Pension in Divorce
Since pension divisions make up a tremendous amount of your net worth, it is only natural that you would wish to keep the majority (at least) of the fund. Thus, consult with one of our attorneys about alternate options to pension division in divorce. While California’s community property laws can be strict, it is important to remember that we are fundamentally working with people. People can be negotiated with. Thus, we may be able to come up with a deal where we exchange items of lesser value with your spouse in return for a large portion of your retirement plan. However, this is not guaranteed, which is why it is important to consult with one of our innovative attorneys before you proceed with negotiations.