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P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
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Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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# Wife separating from Govt employee. Govt employee had 14

Wife separating from Gov't employee.
Gov't employee had 14 years TSP funding in system prior to marriage,
how do I calculate forward value (today) of pre-marriage TSP funds.
She should only be entitled to 1/2 of post marriage TSP contributions - correct?
Similar issue with potential FERS split, 14 years prior to separation - now total 29 years how to estimate/calculate 1/2 of 15 years married amount?
thanks
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years military law experience.

Maryland is an "equitable distribution state"

That gives the court great latitude. They can give more or less than a community property state can give, based on the concept that the division should be "equitable"

But let me give you the formula that a community property state would use...that will give you a "ballpark" on what to expect.

What you describe is a division of marital property...the court will look at what percentage of the property was earned while the marriage was intact, as compared to what percentage of the property was earned outside the marriage.

Example:

Say there is a marriage of 20 years, and the pension is earned over the same 20 years (every day of work was a day of marriage). In such a case, I would expect an even 50/50 split.

Now...say that the marriage was 10 years of overlap in a 20 year career...in such a case, I would expect a 25% award (1/2 of 1/2)

What you describe? Lets make the math simple...say it is 28 year career and 14 years marriage? Then you get the same 1/2 of 1/2 or 25%.

Again, this is for community property.

Since MD is an equitable distribution, they can deviate from this slightly...but it is a good baseline

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I guess I was hoping that there was more of a "math" model to the split. specifics I had were 118K in TSP at time of marriage, today's total \$590K. Should be able to calculate that the original \$118K reflects a much larger percentage of the \$590K that is "traceable" back to pre-marriage \$118K. Or does the law look at "any interest on existing amount in TSP AND additional contributions and interest on those additional funds" is all split 50/50?

Suggestions on "how" to keep wife's hands off of FERS retirement - again 14 years pre marriage, 15 years of marriage - she would get 1/2 of 1/2 as a ballpark figure??

thanks

Thank you sir

The “math” is much simpler in a community property state. That is because in such states the court must “do the math” and award accordingly.

In an equitable distribution state, like MD, the court has much more discretion.

That can be a good thing. Particularly for you.

You see, if this were in CA or another community property state, the court would not “get into the weeds” on what portion of the money was earned by what interest rate when....

They would look at the ration of pension earning total to the ration of pension earned while married and divide accordingly.

In your case, it would be near 25%.

But in MD the court as more discretion. Since they are free to distribute the property based on a principal of fairness you can argue, for example, that you rate a larger portion of the pension, since the majority of the pension amount was earned while you were single

You have to “prove it up”

You will need to present evidence to prove that you rate a larger portion. So you would need to have your lawyer find an expert witness (likely an accountant) to educate the judge on how the pension has grown over time. But to the extent you can prove you deserve more than 1/2 the court can give you more than 1/2

Or, you can try and use this as leverage and negotiate a settlement so you can both save money on lawyers fees.