The paychecks of 40,000 D.C. government white-collar and blue-collar workers, teachers, police and fire personnel would be subject to garnishment for alimony and child support under "corrective" legislation cleared by Senate-House conferees.
Monthly pension checks to D.C. government retirees also would be subject to garnishment for court-ordered alimony and/or child-support payments under the legislation that already covers federal agencies and military departments.
A 1975 law - still not fully operation - required the Pentagon and federal agencies to begin withholding money from the pay or pension checks of employees or service personnel who had been served with court orders for back or current alimony or child support. Teh D.C. government - apparently by oversight - was excluded from the law. But Senate-House conferees this week agreed to include the District in the law.
The garnishment order for D.C. government personnel, other federal employees or retirees and active duty or retired military personnel covers only alimony and child support. It does not include other debts that workers or retirees owe. And it does not mean that the ex-spouse can simply call up the agency and demand garnishment. The action must be taken through a state or comparable court and the garnishment order must be served in a legal manner.
Uner the law, agencies must designate an individual or office to receive the garnishment orders and process them quickly. On April 15, this column ran the outlines of the proposed new regulations (since published in the Federal Register), telling agencies how they must handle the court orders.
If and when the Congress and the White House approve the garnishment order to include the D.C. govenment, those employees or retirees would be under the same garnishment rules as workers or retirees of Commerce, HEW, the Postal Service, the military and all other federal agencies.
To help the agency identify the person who the court says owes alimony or child support, ex-spouses must get a court order and sends it - registered amil, return receipt requested - to the the agency of the employee or the agency from which he or she has retiree. The communication also should include the following data, or as much of it as is known, to help identify the individual:
Full name of the individual in the alimony or child-support action.
His or her date of birth.
The employee's or retiree's employment number, social security number and/or military serial number or, if retired, civil service claim number.
The component of the agency or military department where the individual works or worked, ad his or her duty station or worksite location.