What Happens to Military Benefits After a Divorce?

Determining how assets and benefits are divided following a divorce can be a complicated task, especially when one of the spouses involved has military benefits. While the majority of the divorce proceedings will follow the same procedure as a civilian divorce, there are a variety of other factors included when filing for divorce with someone who served in the military.

20/20/20 Former Spouse Benefits

Ex-spouses of members of the military are eligible for certain benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, depending on how long you and your spouse were married, how long your spouse served in the military, and how long you were married to them while they served in the military. You need to meet the criteria of the “20/20/20 rule” in order to keep full military privileges and benefits after divorcing someone who served in the military. Those criteria are:

  • The civilian must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce.
  • The member of the military must have performed at least 20 years of service that can be counted when determining retirement pay eligibility, but does not need to be retired at the time of the divorce.
  • The civilian must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years during their retirement-creditable service.

In short, the civilian needs to have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years, the member of the military must have performed at least 20 years of retirement-creditable service, and the civilian must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years while they served in order to qualify for full commissary, health care, and exchange benefits following a divorce.

20/20/15 Former Spouse Benefits

Even if you don’t qualify for benefits under the 20/20/20 rule, you may still qualify for military health care benefits for a year after your divorce under the 20/20/15 rule. The two rules are similar in their requirements:

  • The civilian must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce.
  • The member of the military must have performed at least 20 years of service that can be counted when determining retirement pay eligibility, but does not need to be retired at the time of the divorce.
  • The civilian must have been married to the member of the military for at least 15 years during their retirement-creditable service.

If you meet the requirements of the 20/20/15 rule, you will be allowed to continue using the military TRICARE medical coverage for one year following the divorce, but you will not qualify for any other military benefits.

Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, the ex-spouse is not automatically entitled to a portion of the service member’s retired pay. However, the state is permitted to treat the retired pay as disposable income in order to divide it during the divorce proceedings, and it can also be used for alimony or child support obligations.

If you are in the process of or are planning on divorcing your spouse, you need a qualified divorce lawyer to help you navigate the legal complications you may face. At Givens Givens Sparks, our Tampa divorce attorneys treat our clients like they’re our own family. It’s our Job to ensure you can make the best decisions for you and your family’s future, and secure the outcome you deserve. Contact us today through our website for a free case consultation, or give us a call at (813) 336-3348 to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys.

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