If you get married while you are an active/deferred member of MercedCERA, please obtain a form to update your beneficiary designation and provide a copy of your marriage certificate. It is important to keep your beneficiary designation current at all times. Your spouse may be entitled to all death benefits payable under California law, regardless of whom you designate as beneficiary.


Pursuant to California law, if you are a member of MercedCERA while you are married or in a registered domestic partnership, 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 MercedCERA 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.


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 MercedCERA as a party to the proceedings. A Domestic Relations Order (DRO) is also needed. A joinder must be filed with MercedCERA and a Superior Court. A DRO explains in detail many issues, including who is entitled to a benefit, and when they are entitled to receive it.

As soon as possible, provide MercedCERA 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 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.

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