2.02: Spouses and Dependent Children
5 U.S.C. app. § 102(e); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.311
Interests of a filer’s spouse and dependent children are reportable in the following Parts:
- Part 5: Spouse’s Employment Assets & Income and Retirement Accounts
- Part 6: Other Assets and Income
- Part 7: Transactions
- Part 8: Liabilities
- Part 9: Gifts and Travel Reimbursements (unless received for reasons independent of their relationship to the filer)
For purposes of financial disclosure and other federal ethics rules, “spouse” means an individual to whom the filer has been legally married, regardless of the filer’s state of residence. The term “spouse” does not include an individual with whom the filer is in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other relationship other than marriage. See OGE Legal Advisory LA-13-10 (August 19, 2013).
Dependent Child v. Minor Child
5 U.S.C. app. § 109(2); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.105(d)
The basic criminal conflict of interest statute (18 U.S.C. § 208) uses the term “minor child,” but the financial disclosure requirements (and the Standards of Conduct provisions on impartiality) refer more broadly to “dependent children.”
For purposes of financial disclosure, “dependent” means an individual who is:
1. a son, daughter, stepson, or stepdaughter of the filer; and
2. unmarried, under age 21, and living in the filer’s house or considered dependent by tax code standards.
“Minor child” is a class of children defined by state law, usually as under age 18.
Tests for Separateness
5 U.S.C. app. § 102(e)(1)(E); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.311(d)
A filer need not report assets, investment income, or liabilities of a spouse or dependent child if the interests strictly meet all the tests for separateness as specified in the regulation. These tests, however, are very rarely met. For example, an asset that is reported on a joint tax return or held in a trust for a child’s education is a benefit to the filer. Thus, the asset should be reported. A practical effect of these tests is that filers who complete joint tax returns, cohabitate, share expenses, or have not been disinherited by their spouses must report the spouse’s interests.
Changes in Status
Marriage during a Filing Period
When a filer gets married during the reporting period, the filer reports:
- In Parts 5 and 6: A spouse’s assets and sources of income for the period after the date of the marriage.
- In Part 7: A spouse’s transactions that took place during the period after the date of the marriage.
- In Part 8: A spouse’s liabilities that exceeded the reporting threshold during the period after the date of the marriage.
- In Part 9: A spouse’s gifts and travel reimbursements that were received after the date of the marriage.
Divorce or Separation
5 U.S.C. app. § 102(e)(2); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.311(c)
A filer who is divorced or permanently separated need not report a spouse’s interests for the period before or after the divorce or permanent separation. However, note that even in situations where there is no reporting requirement, 18 U.S.C. § 208 will still apply to particular matters in which an employee knows the separated spouse has a financial interest.
No Longer a Dependent
The filer need not report the sole interests of any child who was not a dependent as of the date of filing. The filer, however, must still report any interests that are (or were) also those of the filer or the filer’s spouse (e.g., a child’s loan for which the filer co-signed).