Federal officials expect to have final regulations cleared shortly, telling agencies how to make court-ordered alimony and child-support deductions from the pay or pension checks of civilian workers, military personnel or retirees.
The new regulations, which also will cover D.C. government personnel and retirees, should be out within a few weeks. Some government agencies and military units already have handled many court orders for pay or pension garnishment. But most haven't, and the new guidelines will set up exact procedures for them. They also will require agencies to designate an individual to handle the garnishments.
The garnishment authority was approved in late 1975. It marked the first time that federal paychecks or pension checks were made liable for deductions from outside "creditors" for any reason. The garnishments are allowed only for alimony or child support, and only by court order.
The Civil Service Commission is handling the garnishment program, and it published proposed new regulations in the Federal Register on April 15. Comments have beeb received from the public (the comment period closed June 1) and as a result some minor changes will be made.
Under the proposal, all payments to individuals from the U.S. and D.C. governments are subject to garnishment for either alimony or child support, or both. This includes regular federal wages, pensions, military pay and pensions and fees to consultants. Court costs and attorney's fees, if the court makes them part of the garnishment action, also may be deducted from pay or pension checks.
Agencies will be required to designate an official or office to receive the garnishment orders. That individual or office will be responsible for acting on them promptly.
In most cases, it would be better for persons seeking court-ordered alimony or child support to wait a few weeks until the garnishment regulations are issued. Some agencies however, like the U.S. Postal Service, Civil Service Commission and the military, already have processed garnishment actions.
Once the regulations are out, persons should supply the civilian agency or military department with data on the ex-spouse. It should include the court order, and be sent by registered mail with a return receipt requested. The data should include:
Full name of the individual in the alimony or child-support action.
His or her date of birth.
His or her employment number, social security and/or military serial number, or the civil service claim number of a retiree.
The component of the agency (or military department) where the individual works, or is retired from, and his or her duty station.
Now that the garnishment orders are almost in the implementing stage, federal officials expect many men (and women) who have been ducking alimony or child-support claims will take action to settle up out of court.
For more information about programs - or to get in touch with individuals - in various agencies or departments, here is a list of civilian and military offices to contact: