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Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP)

Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP)

What Is a Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP)?

A court order acceptable for processing (COAP) is a legal ruling giving the ex-spouse or dependent of a federal employee the right to receive all or a portion of the benefits of a government retirement plan in the event of a divorce, a separation, or a cancellation of a marriage. It is a marital assets settlement order issued and approved by a court of any state.

Figuring out a COAP

A COAP is a court ruling that gives rules and directions to be utilized by the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in overseeing the retirement benefits to be paid. The OPM won't handle a COAP with dubious or flawed directives, and the gatherings associated with the marital settlement will be redirected to the state courts to tackle the issue. Likewise, in a case of conflict wherein one party misjudges or contradicts the COAP, all gatherings included need to resolve the dispute with the court, which can explain or correct its orders for better understanding.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law that oversees the distribution of benefits from a private retirement plan. Qualified retirement plans —, for example, characterized commitment plans, characterized benefits plans, simplified employee pension plans (SEPs), employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), profit-sharing plans, and 401(k)s — are completely administered by ERISA.

Retirement benefits given by the military, federal government, region, city, or state are not classified as qualified retirement plans. Subsequently, ERISA directives don't have any significant bearing to them. Federal employee retirement benefits are represented by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), thrift savings plans (TSPs), and military retired pay.

In the event of marital disintegration, the court requires a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to make a judgment on how the retirement benefits of an employee will be distributed. An attorney sends a domestic relations order (DRO) to the plan administrator, who surveys and affirms whether it is a qualified order in light of whether its required payments line up with the plan's payments and federal laws. Whenever qualified, the court makes a judgment that requires the plan administrator to in like manner disperse the employee's benefits. The laws that apply to federal plan benefits are not the same as those that administer qualified plan benefits.

Subsequently, assuming that the language of the DRO stipulates ERISA terms, the DRO may be dismissed on the grounds that ERISA laws don't matter to federal pension benefits. Assuming that the DRO is acceptable, the attorney transfers this to the court to start the processing of benefits. A DRO that is qualified under a federal retirement plan is called a COAP and is the equivalent of a QDRO in the private sector.

Employee versus Spouse Annuity

There are three types of retirement benefits distinguishable in a COAP: a employee annuity, a former spouse survivor annuity, and a refund of employee contributions. A benefit granted in one of the three areas might influence the benefit of the other two areas. For instance, in the event that a COAP awards survivor annuity payments to a former spouse, the employee's annuity will be diminished or dispensed with.

The employee annuity is the month to month benefit payable to the annuitant or employee upon retirement. The COAP needs to show whether the retirement system is FERS or CSRS and must specifically direct OPM to pay the former spouse. On the off chance that there are no directives for who makes the payment, OPM is assumed to make the payments. Be that as it may, assuming that the directive of the COAP is for the annuitant to make the payments, OPM wouldn't handle the request on its end.

A COAP likewise remembers directives for how the OPM ought to process the portion of the annuity that is due to the former spouse. The calculation can be stipulated as a fixed amount or a percentage of the employee annuity in view of the number of long periods of marriage. The COAP must likewise be specific with respect to the type of annuity that the computational shares ought to be made (for instance, the COAP language can peruse 20% of gross annuity or half of the net annuity).

A former spouse survivor annuity is the benefit payable to a former or current spouse under a COAP upon the death of the plan's beneficiary. Explicit directions by a COAP given to OMP on the most proficient method to process the former spouse survivor annuity must be given prior to the beneficiary's death or retirement, whichever starts things out. At the point when a federal employee retires, a portion of their annuity will be paid to their former spouse as controlled by the COAP. Be that as it may, in the event that the employee doesn't stipulate a survivor benefit in that frame of mind of their death, the annuity payments given to the former spouse while the retired employee was alive will stop assuming that the employee passes on. Another order that comes in after the employee's death to keep paying a former spouse won't be respected.

In terms of benefit payments for child support, the child must have been brought into the world of the marriage to qualify.

A former spouse must have been married to the employee or retiree for no less than nine months (and not had something to do with the death of the employee) to meet all requirements for survivor benefits. Likewise, the former spouse must not remarry before the age of 55 to keep getting survivor benefits, except if they were married to the late employee for somewhere around 30 years. On account of a self-just annuity, in which a retiree has chosen not to give annuity benefits to any survivor, the enduring former spouse won't be granted payments in the afterlife.

Any refund of employee contributions is payable when the employee is fired from their job before they retire. A COAP might give that all or a portion of the refund be paid to a former spouse. The COAP may likewise prevent payment of a portion of the refund of retirement contributions from being made to a former spouse.


  • The marriage must have gone on for over nine months to meet all requirements for survivor spouse benefits.
  • A COAP can decide how to partition assets held in FERS and CERS plans after a divorce, a separation, or a dissolution of a marriage.
  • A court order acceptable for processing (COAP) gives a former spouse or dependent rights to a government employee's retirement benefits.
  • An employee annuity, a former spouse survivor annuity, and a refund of employee contributions are the three types of benefits distinguishable with a COAP.