PERA DROs – Simple & Frustrating
A silver lining thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic? Preparing DROs (domestic relations orders) to divide Colorado PERA pensions has long been an exercise in frustration. The forms are deceptively simple – they are fill-in-the-blank, so seemingly have very little room for error.
But the slightest deficiency anywhere on the form results in the order being rejected, and having to start all over again. And as any attorney who practices Colorado family law knows this creates the risk of running out of time, because the law inexplicably imposes a 90-day deadline to submit a conforming PERA division order after the decree is issued. No exceptions.C.R.S. 14-10-113(6)(c)(I).
Coronavirus Leads To Relief From PERA 90-Day Rule
At least “no exceptions” until now. But just as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed so much of society, so too has it changed PERA – at least temporarily. With courts closed for routine business, PERA has, sensibly, realized that strict adherence to an already-pointless rule during Coronavirus makes little sense.
PERA recently announced “New Temporary Relief for Domestic Relations Orders“. In short, PERA Rule 15.25A, which implements the 90-day requirement, has been suspended.
Now, the 90-day deadline has been extended until December 31, 2020 for cases where the decree of dissolution was entered on or after December 16, 2019. The reasoning is that with the courthouse closures, litigants would have a harder time getting the PERA DRO approved in time.
Out of the horrible tragedy that is Covid-19. a little sanity emerges, even if it is only temporary sanity. Maybe once the powers-that-be at Colorado PERA realize that the system works, even without this 90-day rule, they could consider a permanent relaxation? We have enough real deadlines in Colorado family law without having to deal with manufactured ones that don’t serve any apparent purpose.