What Happens To Military Benefits After A Divorce?

Determining how finances and benefits will be split up can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. It makes sense; maintaining some semblance of financial stability in the midst of restructuring your personal and marital life can be incredibly stressful. While most of the decisions regarding how finances, property, and benefits are divided are determined by the courts, military benefits follow separate guidelines.

There are two separate sets of requirements that must be met for the ex-spouse of a member of the U.S. military to remain eligible for medical, emissary, theater, or exchange benefits and privileges provided by the government.

20/20/20 Rule

  • The ex-spouse must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years at the time of the annulment, dissolution, or divorce.
  • The member of the military must have served for at least 20 years, and that service must have been creditable in determining their eligibility for retired pay. They do not have to be retired from active duty at the time of the annulment, dissolution, or divorce in order for their ex-spouse to qualify.
  • The ex-spouse must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years of their retirement-creditable service.

If the ex-spouse of a service member meets these requirements, they will remain entitled to full benefits and privileges after their divorce.

20/20/15 Rule

  • The ex-spouse must have been married to the member of the military for at least 20 years at the time of the annulment, dissolution, or divorce.
  • The member of the military must have served for at least 20 years, and that service must have been creditable in determining their eligibility for retired pay. They do not have to be retired from active duty at the time of the annulment, dissolution, or divorce in order for their ex-spouse to qualify.
  • The ex-spouse must have been married to the member of the military for at least 15 years of their retirement-creditable service.

If the ex-spouse of a service member meets these requirements, they will be eligible to retain their medical coverage for a transitional period of one year. They will not remain eligible for any emissary, theater, or exchange benefits.

A major concern that may come up if the ex-spouse does not qualify for either the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rule is their continuing eligibility for any benefits or retired pay, which is addressed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). This act doesn’t automatically entitle the ex-spouse of a service member to a portion of their retired pay; rather, it permits the state to treat the pay as disposable income and divide it in a divorce action. Under USFSPA, the retired pay can also be used for child support or alimony obligations.

If you are in the process of, or planning to enter into divorce proceedings, it’s important to have experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel on your side. At The Harris Law Firm, our Colorado family law attorneys are ready to work on your behalf in order to put together the plan of action that best suits your needs. Feel free to use our online contact form if you have a specific legal question, or contact us today to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys.

Related Posts:

Categories: