Peterson v. PetersonAnnotate this Case
Husband, an attorney who works in private practice, contributed to Social Security through mandatory payroll deductions. Wife, an attorney with the County, contributed to a defined-benefit retirement plan through her employer. At issue in this appeal is: When one spouse contributes to Social Security, which according to federal law is a spouse’s separate property, and the other spouse participates in a state or local pension plan in lieu of Social Security, which according to state law is community property, how should a state court divide the parties’ retirement benefits? The court agreed with the trial court's holding that because the husband’s Social Security benefits are separate property and the wife’s county retirement benefits are community property, the Social Security benefits may not be considered and the county benefits must be divided equally between the parties. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.