Americans are known around the world for their devotion to their jobs and their unrelenting work ethic. In recent years the number of days that American workers took for vacation each year has declined. In 2013, American workers reported using just 16.0 days, compared to the average of 20.3 days of vacation leave Americans took just 13 years prior in 2000. U.S. Travel Association, Fact Sheet “All Work, No Pay: America’s Disappearing Vacation Days,” 2015.
Now how is this relevant to your divorce? There is a new trend popping up in a number of states. Courts are beginning to place a value on accrued vacation days and sick leave that accumulates over the life of a marriage. Last year, the Colorado Supreme Court found that “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 leave earned during the marriage is marital property and subject to division under UDMA if its value is reasonably ascertainable at the time of divorce.” In re Cardona and Castro, 316 P.3d 626 (Colo. 2014). In 2014, California came to a similar conclusion in holding that the accrued vacation pay is a community asset regardless of whether the parties can place a value on the time. In re Marriage of Moore, 226 Cal. Ct. App. 4th 92 (Cal. 2014). Other states have come to similar conclusions in either finding that vacation leave and sick pay are deferred compensation or are another form of wages; but both being a community property asset.
The Arizona courts have yet to issue an opinion on these issues. But keep this in mind if you foresee an imminent divorce in your future. If you are one of the hard working Americans that builds up your sick leave and vacation time year after year, consider the implications it may have in your divorce. Or if you have a spouse that has never taken a day off during your marriage, you may be able to be compensated through your community share in such assets. With the new trend moving in that direction, who knows if and when Arizona will make similar rulings? In your case it may be worth the effort to make the claim.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact our Family Law Section at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.