Federal civil service employees have different retirement benefit plans, and receive other compensation, there are often unique challenges that must be addressed when they, or their spouse, are confronted with a divorce proceeding.
Court Orders Acceptable for Processing (COAP)
In a traditional divorce, if the court orders a division of retirement benefits, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be drafted to satisfy the IRS and retirement plan requirements. When the divorce involves a federal servant, the COAP is utilized in place of a QDRO. It is a court order that satisfies guidelines for distribution of federal retirement plans. This order provides the necessary legal documents to ensure the distribution is handled accurately and appropriately. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management follows very detailed rules in dividing federal retirement benefits.
Division of CSRS and FERS Retirement Annuities
The non-participant spouse may receive part of the Employee’s share of the CSRS or FERS retirement annuities. These plans require someone who has knowledge of how the plans are valued to ensure an equitable division. We have extensive experience drafting COAPs and can help make sure the value is properly assigned at the time of divorce. John Camp Law, LLC is often utilized by other attorney’s all over the United States for just that purpose.
Former Spouse Survivor Benefits under FERS and CSRS
Depending on a wide variety of factors, the court may award survivor benefits pursuant to a court order. Should a former spouse remarry before the age of 55, they may lose their rights to such benefits and they could not be restored. Legal advice from a knowledgeable source is needed at every step or the results may be catastrophic.
Division of Federal Civilian Thrift Savings Plans (TSP-Retirement Benefit Orders)
Any court order that divides a TSP account during divorce must contain the language “Thrift Savings Plan” or the plan administrator has no obligation to disperse the assets in accordance with the document. As with other benefits distributions, a special order must be issued by the court. Since we have experience handling these matters, we will ensure the proper language and format is used. The failure to include the appropriate language can delay processing, for extended periods of time. Interest and earnings may not be automatically awarded and can cost one of the party’s huge sums of money.
Federal Employees Health Benefits for Former Spouses
When a marriage ends, the Temporary Continuation of coverage and the Spouse Equity provision can help a former spouse maintain healthcare benefits. Depending on various circumstances former spouses may be eligible to maintain healthcare coverage. Be aware, there are time limits under which this coverage must be requested. Set up a consultation today.
Assignments of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)
In some instances, the court may order an assignment of FEGLI life insurance to a former spouse. These orders are not revocable, meaning they are permanent. Once these assignments are complete, the spouse who owns the policy has no right to change the policy, or to change his/her beneficiary designations.
Stay of Proceedings for Deployed Federal Civil Servants
Similar to military service members, if a federal civil servant is deployed during divorce or custody proceedings, the court may order the proceedings to stop until such time as the party returns from deployment. This allows them to fully participate in the proceedings.
FERS Basic Employee Death Benefits
These benefits may be available to spouses who divorce providing certain criteria are met. The benefit is paid in addition to the FERS survivor annuity benefit, and can be paid to a spouse or a former spouse. In some cases, the FERS Death Benefit can exceed $100,000.00 and can be paid in a lump sum or deposited into an Individual Retirement Arrangement.
Divorces are always difficult and when you are facing challenges that come with divorces involving a federal civil servant, you need an attorney who understand the unique issues. Contact John Camp Law, LLC for help with military and federal civil servant divorces.