In re Marriage of MackAnnotate this Case
When members of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (“PERA”) apply for retirement, they can choose between three options for benefit distribution. Generally, a retiree’s option choice is final. Pursuant to section 24-51-802(3.8), C.R.S. (2021), if a retiree chose either option 2 or 3 at retirement and the retiree’s then-spouse was named cobeneficiary, “the court shall have the jurisdiction to order or allow [the] retiree . . . to remove the spouse that was named cobeneficiary . . . in which case an option 1 benefit shall become payable.” In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court considered whether section 24-51-802(3.8) empowered a divorcing retiree to unilaterally remove a former spouse as named cobeneficiary and convert to option 1 retirement benefits. Assuming without deciding that this issue was adequately preserved for appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court answered this question in the negative. Instead, applying the statute’s plain language, the Court held that section 24-51-802(3.8) vested the trial court, not the retiree, with the authority to remove the former spouse as cobeneficiary and facilitate a conversion to option 1. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, albeit on different grounds.