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Federal employment benefits in a Minnesota divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Property Division |

Divorce involving a federal employee in Minnesota can be stressful and complicated because there are additional complexities that you need to understand and navigate. When you or your spouse are a federal employee, those benefits should be given special consideration; they cover important topics such as retirement annuity payments, Thrift Savings Plan division, Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP), Federal Employee’s Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), and health insurance.

Federal benefits

Federal benefits are offered to federal employees along with their usual salary. These benefits are valuable and are an important consideration during a divorce. For instance, Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) is medical insurance that covers medical bills, including prescription drugs, hospitalization, physician and surgery fees, and dental and optical care. Under the Spouse Equity Act, an ex-spouse of a federal employee may qualify for separate FEHB health insurance coverage. While that application is pending, they have the right to Temporary Continuation of Coverage of these benefits for up to three years following the divorce. Obtaining coverage requires proper planning and meeting strict deadlines of the federal government. The attorneys at Krueger, Juelich & Schmisek, PLLC are here to assist you to ensure that transition is smooth.

Federal retirement benefits that are accrued over the course of the marriage are considered marital property that can be divided in a divorce. For federal employees, these retirement benefits can include Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement Service (CSRS), and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Depending on the nature of the federal employment, other specialized retirement systems may apply, such as for Air Traffic Control personnel and foreign service officers.

Can you split federal retirement benefits?

Yes, you can. Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. That means all marital assets are subject to a fair distribution, without consideration of what might be called “marital fault” in other states.. The federal system of retirement is complicated and governed by rules that are different from those that apply to non-federal plans. It is important that you have an attorney who is familiar with these differences. The attorneys at Krueger, Juelich & Schmisek, PLLC have worked on a considerable number of these matters and would be glad to assist you.

Remarrying

A remarriage of either ex-spouse does not affect the rights they have to retirement benefits in most circumstances. However, the non-federal employee spouse will lose their right to the former spouse survivor benefit (the retirement annuity after the death of the federal employee) and FEHB if they remarry prior to age 55. If that marriage later ends, those benefit can be regained under certain circumstances. Additionally, the federal employee will be limited in designating a later spouse as a survivor benefit to the amount of the maximum benefit that was not previously assigned to a former spouse.

Attorneys with federal employment benefits experience

Whether you are a federal employee or married to one, it is essential for you to have an attorney who is familiar with the special circumstances that apply to your divorce. The attorneys at Krueger, Juelich & Schmisek, PLLC have extensive experience in these matters and will be able to guide you through your marriage dissolution with attention to your individual situation.