Washington High Court Specifies Pension Valuation Date

September 5, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Jurists dividing up community property in a divorce case could use a spouse's likely retirement date as the benchmark for the current value of that spouse's pension, the Washington Supreme Court ruled.

The case before the court involved the divorce of Raymond and Elisabeth Wright who filed their dissolution action in December 1998, BNA reported.

According to the BNA report, Raymond Wright had been working for a public school since 1979 and received employee retirement benefits under the State of Washington’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), Plan I.

Picking the Right Maturation Year

Under the state’s program, Raymond Wright was eligible to collect a pension at any age with 30 service credit years, at age 55 with 25 service credit years, or at age 60 with five service credit years.

The dissolution agreement stated that the pension was community property and should be divided in half.

Elisabeth Wright argued that the pension should be valued as of the earliest date it would mature, which the parties agreed would place its value at $87,280. Raymond Wright said the court should use his likely retirement date at age 65, which the parties agreed would make it worth $39,400.

A state trial court calculated the present value of the pension plan using the date on which Wright claimed he was likely to retire and the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. The state’s high court added its approval in the latest ruling.
The case is Wright v. Wright, Wash., No. 71619-6, 8/22/02.