Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage
Community Property Rights
Domestic Relations Order
In the unfortunate event of divorce, remember that New Mexico is a community property state, which means that assets and property acquired during a marriage are considered to be jointly owned by both spouses. In the event of divorce, this applies to retirement benefits under the Educational Retirement Act
NMERB retirement benefits cannot be divided unless NMERB receives a copy of an acceptable domestic relations order endorsed by the court (also known as a domestic relations order or a “DRO”) that directs the NMERB on how the member’s retirement benefits will be divided between the member and the member’s former spouse.
Even with a DRO, payments of retirement or disability benefits cannot be made to a former spouse until the benefit payment is due to the member. In other words, if a member is not eligible to retire at the time of divorce, NMERB cannot pay the non-member spouse his or her interest in the retirement account. In any case, no benefits can be divided unless NMERB is served with a DRO and the benefits are eligible for distribution to the NMERB member. Orders dividing retirement benefits are subject to review and approval by NMERB to ensure the order complies with the law and can be administered by NMERB. Be sure to provide NMERB with a DRO to avoid a delay in benefit payments.
Members can download a model order with attorney instructions on the Forms page to help them draft an acceptable court order in compliance with the Educational Retirement Act.
Update Your Beneficiary Designation Form
If you are an active member, upon divorce, as with most life changing events, remember to update your beneficiary designation form. If you named your spouse as your beneficiary, this form does not automatically expire upon divorce. Therefore, you may want to update your beneficiary designation form to avoid any unwanted scenarios.
Managing the retirement assets of New Mexico Educators since 1957.
701 Camino de los Marquez
Santa Fe, NM 87505
PO Box 26129
Santa Fe, NM 87502
Email or call ahead for an appointment.
8500 Menaul Blvd. NE, Suite B-450
Albuquerque, NM 87112