Can child support or spousal support be collected directly from a federal employee by a government agency?

By Carolyn Grimes
December 09, 2016

Yes. You can submit your child and spousal support order for direct income deduction through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Generally, it's an income deduction order from your state court, which OPM will honor. It'll take a little while because things grind a little slowly, but they will garnish the employee's paycheck. If you have a spouse who's got a thrift savings plan, and this is usually used when there's an arrearage, you can garnish the child and spousal support from the thrift savings plan as well even if they're not retired and drawing it. When the money comes out, they will be taxed on it because it's a withdrawal. You will get it as nontaxable money to you, unless it's spousal support – then you have to pay the normal spousal support taxes, but you can go through that.

The thrift savings board will honor those orders. They have a separate address; they are in Fairfax, Virginia. If you want to, google them to have your savings plan where you want to get it. Generally, arrearages for ongoing support payments go through the Office of Personnel Management, which is in Washington D.C.

Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit

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December 09, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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