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Do military spouses retain any benefits following divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2022 | Divorce

Going through a divorce is never easy and it can be especially difficult for the spouses of military personnel. The military affects so many aspects of your married life and divorce is no different. You’ll likely have many questions about the process and one thing you may be curious about is whether you get to keep any of the benefits you enjoyed as a result of your military ties.

Commissary and exchange privileges

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) is the federal law which governs whether divorced military spouses retain certain benefits once the divorce is final. As for commissary and exchange privileges, retention is dependent upon what’s known as the 20/20/20 rule. If the service member had at least 20 years in uniform, if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, and if the service time overlapped the marriage by at least 20 years, then the former spouse will retain full commissary and exchange privilege for the rest of their life.

Tricare benefits

Tricare uses the same 20/20/20 rule as commissary and exchange privileges. If the rule is satisfied, the former military spouse will also retain Tricare privileges for life, including treatment at military facilities. However, Tricare also has a 20/20/15 rule. If the marriage and service time only overlap by 15 years, the former spouse will only retain Tricare benefits for one year following the divorce.

If neither rule is satisfied, former spouses have the option of obtaining health care coverage through a special Department of Defense program, for up to three years following the divorce. This is premium-based coverage, intended to provide the spouse a transition period until they can establish private coverage of their own.