By: Curtis Wiberg
Colorado law requires a Court dividing a marital estate in a divorce to divide the estate “equitably”, meaning fairly. See C.R.S. § 14-10-113. More often than not, an equal division of marital assets is the fairest result and the norm in most cases. However, equal is not always fair, and a glaring examples of this is evident when one party has built up a PERA retirement account, while the other has paid into Social Security. This article will focus on PERA, the unequal allocation of marital property after consideration of Social Security benefits, and a 2005 Appellate Court decision.
PERA (Public Employee Retirement Account) accounts are considered, under Colorado law, to be a marital asset. Social Security benefits, on the other hand, are forbidden under federal law from being valued and divided as a marital asset in a divorce. PERA employees, such as teachers or other government workers, receive their benefits built up from their public employment in lieu of Social Security, rather than in addition to Social Security. Thus, by electing to take part in PERA, they are divested of certain Social Security benefits. Continue reading