This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the federal agency that processes court orders that properly articulate awards of federal retirement-related benefits to the former spouses of federal employees. The rules governing court-ordered retirement benefits for divorced federal employees and their former spouses are detailed and complex. Therefore, federal employees and their spouses should consider the following general advice if they are facing a divorce involving the division of federal retirement benefits.
- Be proactive. Federal employees and their spouses should be aware of the special rules governing federal retirement benefits while negotiating the terms of their divorce. We recommend utilizing a family law attorney who is familiar with these specialized regulations and consulting with a federal retirement attorney who can advise on these complex regulations. Far too often, OPM will deny court orders due to the court order’s failure to meet the regulatory requirements. In such case, the parties will most likely need to seek an amendment to their court order in family court and submit the amended court order to OPM for processing.
- Cover your bases. Federal employees have a variety of different retirement benefits, many of which can be shared or assigned to former spouses after divorce by court order. The family law attorney should be aware of the types of benefits available, including: a monthly marital share apportionment (i.e., a portion of the federal retiree’s annuity); a survivor annuity benefit; a portion of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP); and coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) and the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) benefits plans. The parties to a divorce can decide the fairest division of these potential assets by familiarizing themselves with each of these types of federal benefits.
- Pre-retirement check. We recommend that federal employees meet with a federal agency benefits specialist well in advance of their desired retirement date to discuss their retirement. The federal agency benefits specialist should be able to provide guidance and instructions on how to properly complete retirement paperwork and provide a retirement benefits estimate for the federal employee.
In addition, if the federal employee and his/her former spouse wish to create a survivor annuity benefit, this should be done before the federal employee’s date of retirement. It is incredibly difficult, and often times prohibited, to make modifications post-retirement to a survivor annuity benefit. Therefore, we recommend that all potential issues with survivor annuity benefits be confirmed and corrected in advance of the official retirement date.
Given the unique rules that govern federal retirement benefits, it is highly recommended that federal employees utilize an attorney who is familiar with the proper division of federal retirement benefits in court orders.
Our law firm represents and advises federal employees in federal retirement and other employment matters. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.
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In loving memory of William Dinwiddie Tucker, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 95.
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St. Charles offers a play-based curriculum in a welcoming, Christ-centered environment.
Our program focuses on socio-emotional development and kindergarten readiness through hands-on and engaging activities. Our programs offer different schedules ranging from 7:30 am-5:30 pm for students, ages 2-5. We feature a full-day Jr. kindergarten class for older 4’s/5’s. Our facility includes a full-sized gymnasium, school chapel, and library. All of our students enjoy music and physical education weekly. Children have an opportunity to participate in enrichment classes such as soccer, basketball, ballet, and science.
We offer Summer Camp with weekly themes and twice a week water play, including Fun Friday moon bounce. Please join us for our Open House Feb. 3 at 9:30 am and 11:00 am. Click here to sign-up.
For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at www.stcharlesarlington.org or call (703) 527-0608.
If you are a lifelong learner over 50+ who wants to make new friends, power up your brain, and enjoy a wide-variety college-level courses, Encore Learning is for you. An Arlington based nonprofit, Encore Learning offers courses in the arts, theater, literature, history, technology and more. This semester we offer our most popular course, Global Hot Spots as well as 25 new courses. Courses are presented either online or in-person at George Mason University at Virginia Square and other Arlington locations.
Join the free presentation to learn about courses and meet the instructors. This is Encore Learning’s signature event to highlight the upcoming semester with brief presentations by each instructor.
The Spring Course Preview event is Thursday, February 2nd at 9:30 AM via Zoom:
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