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Law School Case Brief

In re Marriage of Cardona - 2014 Colo. 3, 316 P.3d 626

Rule:

Where a spouse has an enforceable right to be paid for accrued vacation or sick leave, as established by an employment agreement or policy, such accrued leave earned during the marriage is marital property for purposes of the Dissolution of Marriage Act, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-101 et seq. Where the value of such leave at the time of dissolution can be reasonably ascertained, it must be equitably divided as part of the marital estate. However, in the event that a court cannot reasonably ascertain the value of such leave at the time of dissolution, the court should consider a spouse's right to such leave as an economic circumstance of the parties when equitably dividing the marital estate.

Facts:

Marta Doris Castro (Wife) and Felipe Cardona (Husband) co-petitioned for dissolution of their marriage in May 2007. In its August 2009 Permanent Orders, the trial court divided Husband's accrued, unused vacation and sick leave as marital property. On appeal, Husband argued that accrued leave is not marital property. A divided panel of the court of appeals agreed and reversed, reasoning that Husband's accrued leave was analogous to unvested stock options or an interest in a discretionary trust and "is thus not property subject to distribution on dissolution." The Supreme Court of Colorado granted certiorari review to consider whether accrued vacation and sick leave may be considered marital property subject to division under section 14-10-113, C.R.S. (2013), of the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Issue:

Does a former spouse’s accrued leave form part of the marital property?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court held that the trial court erred in considering the value of the husband's accrued leave as part of the marital estate because no competent evidence was presented to establish that he had an enforceable right to payment for such leave. Where a spouse had an enforceable right to be paid for accrued vacation or sick leave, as established by an employment agreement or policy, such accrued leave earned during the marriage was marital property for purposes of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-113 (2013). However, if the value could not be reasonable ascertained, the court should consider a spouse's right to such leave as an economic circumstance of the parties when equitably dividing the marital estate.

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