Divorce Decrees

A look at the rules for how benefits for divorced feds and their spouses are handled.

It’s spring, and love is in the air. I wish I could say that love and marriage last forever, but sometimes they don’t. Divorces happen, and they can affect retirement benefits.

Here is a recent email I received from a retiree under the Civil Service Retirement System who is divorced from a current federal employee under CSRS Offset . This means the current employee is eligible for retirement under the same rules as other CSRS employees, but while she is employed, she is required to pay into Social Security. That reduces her CSRS contributions and ultimately will cause a cut (that’s the “offset” part) to her CSRS retirement when she qualifies for Social Security after she retires.

Here’s what the retiree wrote:

In all the retirement classes I took, and in my attempts to review Office of Personnel Management materials, and emails to OPM, I have not been able to learn what the process is when OPM contacts a person who is due court- ordered benefits.

OPM has told me that the court order that I submitted 16 years ago is acceptable for processing. However, OPM will not tell me the process by which I am contacted once my ex-spouse retires. … Does OPM notify me (given that the court order is on file)? Is it when my ex-spouse retires? When they are determining benefits for my ex-spouse? Or once the final benefits have been determined (including the apportionment)?

Here’s what I told him:

As the ex-spouse, it’s up to you to apply for retirement benefits that were awarded to you as a result of your final divorce agreement. OPM will agree to use what is known as a “Court Order Acceptable for Processing” as the basis to divide retirement benefits and award survivor annuities under CSRS and the Federal Employees Retirement System. Private sector pension plans and state government plans use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to perform the function of dividing retirement benefits, but OPM does not recognize QDROs.

Here’s more information from OPM on Court-Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses. It includes the following points:

  • A court order can apportion or divide a CSRS or FERS benefit as a result of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment of marriage. The court order must expressly direct OPM to pay a portion of the monthly CSRS or FERS benefits. The spouse’s share must be stated as a fixed amount, a percentage or a fraction of the annuity, or by a formula whose value is readily apparent from the face of the order and information in OPM’s files. The amount cannot exceed the amount payable to the retiree after deductions for taxes and insurance.
  • Payments to a former spouse from a retiree’s annuity end with the retiree’s death. For the former spouse to receive payments after the retiree’s death, the retiree must elect, or the court order must provide for, a survivor annuity.
  • OPM authorizes payments in accordance with clear, specific, and express provisions of court orders acceptable for processing under the applicable provisions of law and regulation. If the order is not acceptable, the parties must return to state court to seek any necessary modifications.
  • Upon determining an order is acceptable, OPM will inform the former spouse that the court order is acceptable, the date when spousal benefits begin to accrue (if known), and the monthly benefit and formula used to compute it. If he or she disagrees, a clarifying court order must be obtained. OPM also will inform the employee, retiree, or other interested party that the former spouse has applied for benefits;, the court order is acceptable for processing;, the date payment will commence (if appropriate);, the amount and formula. If an individual contests the validity or amount, he or she must submit a court order invalidating or amending the one the former spouse submitted. The former spouse should file the above information as soon as possible. Do not wait for the employee to retire, even if the spousal benefit begins years in the future. The former spouse and employee will be notified of the above information after the order is reviewed.
  • A former spouse must apply in writing to be eligible for a court-awarded portion of an employee’s annuity. No special form is required. If the former spouse is incompetent, a representative can apply on his or her behalf. Unless a court order is already on file at OPM, the application letter must be accompanied by a court-certified copy of the order directing payment from the employee’s or retiree’s retirement benefit, along with any other documents issued as part of the court action.

(Image via Mincemeat /Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.