Preparing an order to divide a TSP.

Retirement benefits accrued during the marriage by a spouse are subject to division when a Texas couple divorces. This can included amounts accrued by a federal employee in a Thrift Savings Plan.

The balance of a TSP can be used to offset assets received by the other spouse or a portion can go to the former spouse. If the former spouse is to receive a portion of a TSP, it must be identified in the divorce decree, property settlement agreement or other court document. Like other retirement plans, specific language must be used for the order dividing the TSP to be valid. Care must be taken in drafting the agreement to avoid unnecessary delays. For this reason, many people choose to retain an attorney for this purpose.

The federal Office of Personnel Managementhas prepared a publication to assist divorcing parties and their attorneys in preparing the Retirement Benefits Court Order, which is in most cases, the operative document. The RBCO requires certain information to be included. For example, it must identify the retirement plan as a TSP, it must provide identifying information of the participant and payees, including current addresses. It must also specify either a dollar amount or a fixed percentage of the plan to be awarded to the spouse and have a date certain for valuation purposes. Other dependents taking under the order, such as minor children, must be identified in the order along with their respective shares.

If the order freezes the TSP, itwill be submitted to the TSP administrator for processing. Once the complete order is submitted, the agency will render a decision on the legal effect of the freeze and when it will be removed. Having the assistance of an attorney throughout the process can be advisable.

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