If you are dissolving your marriage or partnership, you must contact LACERA to update your records.
Dissolution and Your Retirement Benefits
If your marriage or partnership is dissolved while you are an active member, your LACERA pension is subject to division based on California community property laws, which define ownership of property acquired during a marriage or registered domestic partnership. In a dissolution proceeding, the court may order a future division of your monthly retirement allowance as well as direct you to choose a specific retirement option.
If you are in the process of a dissolution at the time of retirement, LACERA cannot pay your retirement allowance until the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is final and a court order directing the community property division of your LACERA benefits is received.
LACERA provides the Community Property Guide to assist parties involved in a dissolution. Sample language for court orders is included in the guide and here online.
How Retirement Options Affect Beneficiary Changes
You can change your beneficiary designation for your retirement benefits at any time prior to retiring. However, at the time of retirement, the option you select—or that the court may direct you to select—could restrict changes to your primary beneficiary designation:
- If you elect the Unmodified Retirement Option or Option 1, you may designate a new primary beneficiary after your retirement.
In the event that you designate another beneficiary, keep in mind that an eligible surviving spouse supersedes all other beneficiaries under the Unmodified allowance, and if there is no spouse, a minor beneficiary supersedes all other beneficiaries.
An ex-spouse/partner is not considered to be an eligible surviving spouse and therefore is not eligible to receive a monthly continuing allowance under the Unmodified or Unmodified Plus options, even if he or she is named as beneficiary after the divorce. They would be eligible to receive a community property portion of a lump-sum benefit, if applicable.
- If you elect Option 2, Option 3, or Option 4, you may not change your beneficiary. If you name your ex-spouse/partner as a beneficiary at the time of your retirement, he or she will receive a monthly continuing allowance after your death.
- You can change your beneficiary designation for the $5,000 lump-sum death benefit at any time, before or after your retirement.
See more details about beneficiary changes and death benefits under the individual retirement options pages.
Eligibility for Survivor Healthcare
If you are still working, you must notify your Department’s Personnel or Human Resources office to remove your spouse from your healthcare coverage. In some cases, the court will order the continuation of an ex-spouse’s health insurance and will hold you financially responsible for maintaining that coverage.
Dissolution impacts more than a retiree’s retirement allowance; it also affects your ex-spouse or partner's eligibility for LACERA-administered survivor healthcare.
- If you dissolve your marriage or partnership during your active service, your ex will not be eligible for LACERA-administered survivor healthcare upon your death.
- If you dissolve your marriage or partnership during active service and later remarry or enter a registered domestic partnership at least one year prior to retirement, and at retirement you designate your new spouse or domestic partner to receive a continuing monthly allowance, he or she will be eligible for LACERA-administered survivor healthcare upon your death.
- If you divorce (or terminate your registered domestic partnership) during active service and remarry or enter a registered domestic partnership less than one year prior to retirement, your new spouse or domestic partner will not be eligible for LACERA-administered survivor healthcare upon your death.
For additional information, contact our Retiree Healthcare Division.