Seeking court order for payout of benefit entitlement from spouse’s retirement account

My husband is a civilian federal employee with a Thrift Savings Plan retirement account (FERS). We’ve been separated for 20+ years, but never legally divorced. He abandoned his family and never provided child support or spousal support, leaving me to raise four children on my own. It appears that he is now retiring from his federal job and seeking to make a full withdrawal of his retirement account. However, he is legally prohibited from doing so without my consent, as we are legally married. He has mailed me a form and requested that I complete the section to forfeit any rights to the account. I feel I am entitled to my 50% of this account, and I do not wish to forfeit my rights. I read on the website that I could obtain a court order to mandate that the account administrator pay me my entitlement. How can I go about petitioning for such a court order and making sure that the court order will most likely not be challenged? I live in northern California.

Asked on June 30, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, California


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The best way to get a properly worded court order, for any purpose, is to hire an attorney to take care of it for you.  One place to find a lawyer in your area, who can help you with this, is our website,

While you're talking about this retirement account, I'd suggest that you also look into your rights in a divorce.  It might sense to do that now, while you still have a handle on where your husband can be found.

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