What Benefits Are You Entitled to in a Military Divorce?
If you were married to a member of the military and got divorced, there are certain benefits that you may be entitled to – depending on the circumstances of your case. These benefits vary and encompass medical benefits, legal assistance, commissary, and more. Today, we will go over the benefits you are entitled to in a military divorce.
An Overview of Military Divorce Benefits
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that provides certain benefits to former spouses of military members. You must meet the following requirements to be considered eligible:
- Been married to a military member for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce
- Military member must have performed at least 20 years of service that is creditable in determining eligibility for retired pay
- Former spouse was married to the military member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service
This is known as the 20/20/20 rule in the military. A former spouse of a military member that remains unmarried can receive medical benefits, commissary, military exchange, installation privileges, and additional perks if he/she meets these requirements.
Additionally, a former spouse of a military member can receive TRICARE medical coverageif he/she also meets these requirements established in the 20/20/15 rule:
- Duration of marriage was at least 20 years
- Service member served at least 20 years of creditable service in the military
- Marriage and period of service occurred at the same time for at least 15 years
How Divorce Affects Current Military Benefits
If you are a former military spouse, you may be wondering what happens after your divorce has been finalized. You can continue to receive commissary and healthcare benefits until your divorce has been declared final. If you were granted family housing, this will typically be taken away within 1 month after your spouse has moved out. The military may offer to pay for relocation assistance if you must return home from an overseas station; however, this may also be taken care of in your divorce settlement.
Unless you can keep your TRICARE benefits by meeting the 20/20/20 rule requirements, you will lose these benefits. You can buy up to 36 months of temporary health care coverage through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care benefit program though. This is called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) which may be available to former military spouses if you do not meet the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rules. You can enroll for CHCBP benefits regardless of the duration of your marriage, but you will need to meet the following requirements first:
- Be unmarried
- Not be enrolled in other health care benefits like TRICARE at the time of the divorce
- Enroll no later than 60 days from the date of the divorce
In certain situations, you may be able to extend your coverage beyond 36 months if you meet the following criteria:
- Remain unmarried (before age 55)
- Were enrolled in a health plan at any time during the 18-month period before the date of the divorce
- Have not enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan and receives a portion of the service member’s retired pay
If you have had to cease your share of military retirement pay for any reason, you may not qualify for CHCBP.
Military service member must still support their families and will be required to pay spousal support and child support. Consult with your lawyer to determine how this will work moving forward.
If you require assistance as you navigate your military divorce, contact our office online or call us via (727) 312-1112.