The purpose of joining the plan is to give the plan an opportunity to appear and be heard. Also, no judgment or order of a court will be enforceable against an employee benefit plan unless the plan has been joined as a party to the proceeding. See Fam. Code section 2060(b). If the plan is covered under federal law (ERISA) there may not be a need to join the plan. A Notice of Adverse Interest will suffice and enforcement of the plan's distribution will be excuted pursuant to the QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). Some plans have specific requirements for language in MSA's or court orders, so check with the plan adminsitrator for the particulars. To ensure the judgment is enforceable the plan should be to joined (if needed) as soon as possible. You should also consult with an attorney to discusse the pros and cons of an MSA vs. a stipulated judgment.
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