Last Updated February 2018
For members of all DRS-administered retirement systems.
Certain legal actions can require the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) to pay a portion of your retirement account to another party. This publication describes the legal actions that could affect your retirement account, including dissolution orders, child-support obligations and federal court orders.
Dissolution orders: A dissolution order is a court order entered at the time of divorce, legal separation, or annulment of marriage or registered domestic partnership that makes a provision that divides property or requires spousal maintenance. RCW 41.50.500 and 41.50.670 through 720 govern the division of retirement benefits as marital property.
Property division: DRS could be required to pay a portion of your retirement account to satisfy a property division obligation. The order could do one of the following:
DRS will comply with an order that meets all statutory requirements. For additional information, see How Can a Property Division Affect My Retirement Account? and WAC 415-02-500 through 550.
Spousal maintenance: DRS could be required to pay a portion of your retirement account to satisfy a spousal maintenance obligation if one of the following situations apply:
Child-support obligations: DRS will pay a portion of your retirement benefit or withdrawal of contributions to satisfy a child-support obligation if one of the following situations apply:
Federal court orders: DRS will pay a portion of your retirement benefit or contribution withdrawal if required by a federally authorized administrative or court order.
Such orders can include Internal Revenue Service (IRS) levies and bankruptcy court orders.
If a property division order requires that your account be split into two separate accounts, the accounts will be split after the order has been filed with and signed by the court and accepted by DRS.
For all other legal actions described in this publication, payment can be made to another party only when one of the following situations apply:
When processing a payment resulting from legal action, DRS deducts a one-time fee as listed below.
|Type of order||Fee|
|Property division order||$75 (This fee is divided equally between you and your ex-spouse and deducted from each person’s first payment.)|
|Mandatory benefit assignment order||$25|
A party to a dissolution proceeding may seek a restraining order to stop you from withdrawing contributions or receiving a monthly benefit payment.
DRS must comply with a restraining order entered by a court and served on DRS. For more information, see RCW 41.50.720.
DRS cannot comply with a provision in an order that RCW 41.50 doesn’t specifically authorize.
For example, DRS cannot honor an order that is based solely on a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or any provision that is based solely on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Retirement Equity Act (REA) or the existence of a meretricious relationship (that is, a relationship in which a couple’s partners live together but are not married).
DRS is required to report all retirement payments made during each calendar year (except certain payments regarding duty-related disabilities or death benefits) to the IRS.
Payments made to your ex-spouse or former registered domestic partner as ordered in a property division are reported to the IRS as paid to your ex-spouse or ex-partner. All other payments are reported to the IRS as paid to you.
A dissolution order might require your ex-spouse be named as your survivor if the order contains language from RCW 41.50.790.
You can request information about your account. See the contact information for DRS on page 4.
Your request must include:
Another person can request information about your account by:
In response to a public disclosure request, DRS will send you a certified letter to notify you that the request has been made.
If you want to stop the release of information, you must file a court restraining order with DRS within 10 business days from receipt of the certified letter.
Awarding an interest: A court has awarded another party the right to receive payment of a portion of your monthly benefit or withdrawal of contributions.
Dissolution order: Any judgment, decree or order of spousal maintenance, property division or court-approved property settlement as part of a decree of divorce, dissolution, invalidity or legal separation.
Ex-spouse or ex-partner: A former spouse or registered domestic partner who is a party to a dissolution order.
RCW: Revised Code of Washington.
Splitting an account: A court has awarded your ex-spouse or ex-partner the right to a separate retirement account that is created by splitting your retirement account.
Vested member: A retirement plan member who has earned enough years of service credit to be eligible for a service retirement when he or she meets the applicable age requirements.
WAC: Washington Administrative Code.
For more information, please refer to your member handbook.
Privacy of your information
We are committed to protecting the privacy of your account information, including your Social Security number, which we use to track your account and submit required reports to the IRS. We will not disclose your information to anyone unless we are required to do so by law. If you have insurance coverage through PEBB, we might share your information with PEBB to better serve you.
This document is a summary. It is not a complete description of how legal actions can affect a retirement account. State retirement laws govern your benefit. If a conflict exists between the information in this document and what is contained in current law, the law governs.