Joinder of Employee Benefit Plan

Joinder of Employee Benefit Plan

What is a Joinder of Employee Benefit Plan?

“Joinder” is a legal process that names a third-party claimant to a divorce case and notifies the retirement plan that a former spouse has a right to a portion of an employee’s benefits.  A joinder is completed by filing various joinder forms with the court, serving the joinder forms on the retirement plan administrator, and the retirement plan administrator filing a response to the joinder.  The Judicial Council joinder forms can be found on the California Courts website.

When Are Joinders Required?

Joinders are required by most state, county, public school or university, or public agency retirement plans.  Some plans that require joinders are California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), the University of California Retirement System (UCRS), and various county and city employee benefit plans (such as SDCERA, SDCERSOCERS, LACERA, LACERS, ICERS, KCERA, and SBCERA, just to name a few).  The easiest way to determine if a joinder is required for your retirement plan is to ask your retirement plan administrator.  A summary of the types of plans that require joinders can also be found here.  Joinders are never utilized when dividing federal government plans, or many ERISA governed plans.

When Should I Have a Joinder Prepared?

A joinder should be filed with the court as soon as possible after the Petition for Divorce (FL-100) has been filed and the parties are aware of retirement benefits that will need to be divided.  A joinder will typically cause the retirement plan to place a hold or freeze on the employee’s account until the plan administrator receives a Domestic Relations Order (DRO), Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), or other court order dismissing the joinder.  A hold will typically mean that an employee cannot retire and begin receiving benefit payments, or take any loans or distributions, until the hold is lifted by the plan administrator.  Therefore, joinders are very effective in ensuring that assets remain frozen until a divorce is completed and a court order regarding the division of those benefits is entered with the court.

Need Help With A Joinder of Employee Benefit Plan? $200 Flat Fee Joinder Preparation

If you have questions about joinders for employee benefit plans due to your California divorce or legal separation, or if you would like help in filing a joinder, please call QDRO Helper at (619) 786-QDRO / (619) 786-7376.  We offer joinder services for a $200 Flat Fee per retirement plan; please see our Fee Schedule for details.  You can also request information by sending an email to  We proudly assist clients throughout the United States as long as the divorce or legal separation took place in California.

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