The goal is for grant participants to obtain funds for indigent persons going through divorce. It is a mistaken notion that only people with money have retirement accounts. All too often, one of the parties in a divorce is employed having some sort of retirement account (e.g. 401k), but the other party is not aware of his/her rights to a portion of those assets or because of lack of access in the self-help centers and/or legal aid organizations is not able to obtain his/her marital or community interest in those funds because they need a QDRO!
This issue has become even more critical in many states including California which has now implemented the CALSAVERS Retirement Savings Trust Act which among other provisions, mandates that employers with five or more employees must either provide a retirement savings plan or enroll in the state sponsored CALSAVERS options.
The only way to change this paradigm is to strengthen the infrastructure within legal aid programs, self-help centers and certain social service organizations to better serve low-income persons particularly women by securing their entitlements to retirement funds to increase their income and assets. This could mean lump sum payments; access to funds for child and spousal support and property equalization payments. These funds can augment meager Social Security checks or create a revenue source where there is no other for seniors.
The current capacity throughout the United States is extremely limited. There is no other resource for support but for the work provided by Center with its software, teaching, training and support. The goal with the grants obtained is to increase the capacity to as many nonprofit and/or government providers as possible to do the following: 1) train and enable as many nonprofit nonprofit legal providers including their chosen pro bono attorneys, and self-help court-based programs to incorporate retirement plan division into their family law services made available to the low and moderate-income public; 2) increase the general understanding and knowledge about retirement plan division so that they can better educate their constituents and make appropriate referrals and 3) create a working partnership out of the Center’s Advisory Panel whose mission is to promote accessibility to retirement fund division among a wider group of providers including court-based self-help programs in each state so that the justice gap be extinguished over a period of 5 years.