Military Benefits in Family Law Cases

military benefits in family law

When one spouse is in the military, a divorce case isn’t as straightforward as those for civilians might be. There are benefits available to military members that must be considered as part of any family law case.

Medical Benefits Program

The medical benefits program available to active-duty service members, retirees, and family members is called TRICARE. After a divorce, a service member’s children continue to qualify for TRICARE. Unfortunately for civilian spouses, unless you meet some pretty stringent requirements, you will no longer qualify once you are divorced. You get to keep your TRICARE coverage only if all the following things are true:

  • You do not qualify for health insurance through your own employment.
  • You have not remarried.
  • You meet the requirements of the 20/20/20 rule, meaning that you were married for at least 20 years, your spouse has at least 20 years of military service, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between those two time periods. (Lesser benefits are available to spouses who meet a 20/20/15 rule, meaning the overlap was at least 15 years.)

Military Pension

“My wife can’t get a share of my pension. We have not been married ten years during my service.”  

This is incorrect.  There is no minimum number of years for divisibility of the military pension. The so-called “10/10 Rule” (or 10-Year Rule) is a source of confusion for many individuals when dealing with a military divorce. The 10-Year Rule only affects how the former spouse receives the share of military retirement pay to which he or she is entitled because of a divorce. 

The first “10” of the 10/10 Rule requires a couple to have been married for at least ten years. The second “10” requires the military spouse to have served at least 10 years of service creditable towards retirement during the marriage. If both these conditions are met, then the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) may directly pay a former spouse his or her share of military retirement pay. 

If the 10-Year Rule is not met, then the military spouse must provide the former spouse his or her share directly, which could be done by mailing a check, setting up an allotment or automatic payment, or some similar method.

How Remarrying Affects Benefits

How does remarrying affect the benefits awarded to you in a military divorce? First, let’s start with the retirement pay.  That would not be affected by your remarriage, as it is considered a split of marital property and is stated in your divorce decree.  

If your ex-spouse passes away, and you are covered by the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) as a “former spouse,” your benefits through SBP would stop if you remarried prior to age 55.  If that marriage ends due to death or divorce, your SBP benefits would restart.  You will lose military health care benefits permanently if you remarry.  

Finally, base privileges including the commissary, exchange and recreational facilities would be terminated upon remarriage, but could be reinstated in the event the marriage ends. 

If you have questions or need assistance with a matter involving military benefits as they apply to family law, call us today at 210-368-9708 to schedule a consultation.

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