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When are you eligible for benefits in a military divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2021 | Divorce |

When you are in a marriage with a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may become accustomed to shopping at military commissaries and using TRICARE health insurance. However, if your marriage to the service member ends, you may question whether you may continue to take advantage of these and other military benefits.

If your military marriage only lasted a short while, or if your serving husband or wife is relatively new to the military, then you do not retain access to military benefits once your divorce becomes final. However, if your marriage was a lengthy one and your spouse had a lengthy history in the military, you may be able to continue to use military benefits. However, this depends on whether you meet the eligibility requirements dictated by the 20/20/20 rule.

20/20/20 rule eligibility requirements

To continue to take advantage of military benefits as a non-service member, your marriage to a service member must have lasted at least 20 years. Also, your service member spouse’s term of service had to last at least 20 years. Furthermore, your marriage and the service term must have overlapped by at least 20 years for you to remain eligible for military benefits after a divorce.

Additional considerations

If you meet the 20/20/20 rule criteria and continue to use military benefits after your split, but then remarry, the new marriage makes you ineligible to take advantage of these benefits any longer.

If you otherwise meet all 20/20/20 rule criteria but your marriage overlapped your spouse’s service term by between 15 and 20 years, you may be able to use TRICARE temporarily. Under these circumstances, you may typically do so for one year after your divorce becomes official.