Family Law

Home Practice Areas Family & Matrimonial Law Military Divorce Medical, Commissary & Exchange Benefits
Medical, Commissary & Exchange Benefits

There may be other benefits to which a former spouse will be entitled in the event of divorce.  What benefits the former spouse will be entitled to depends on the length of time the parties were married while the service-member was in the military.  Also, the children are often entitled to continued benefits even after divorce.

  • Full Benefits Following Divorce:  In order for the former spouse to retain full military benefits and privileges, what is known as the “20/20/20 Rule” must be met.  That is, at least 20 years of marriage, at least 20 years of service creditable toward retired pay, and at least 20 of the years of the marriage overlapped with at least 20 of the years of service. If these requirements are met, the former spouse should be entitled to full commissary, exchange and health care benefits even after the divorce.
  • Transitional Benefits Following Divorce: If a former spouse does not qualify for full benefits under the 20/20/20 Rule, then the spouse may qualify under the “20/20/15.”  That rule requires that the parties have been married for at least 20 years, that the service-member have at least 20 years of creditable service, and that at least 15 years of the marriage overlapped with the creditable service years.  If that rule is met, then the former spouse may be entitled to retain TRICARE medical coverage, but only for a transitional period of one year.  But a 20/20/15 former spouse will not have access to the military exchange, installation privileges or commissary privileges.
  • Unless the strict requirements of the 20/20 Rules are met, the former spouse will not be able to continue using the commissaries and exchanges or to receive medical benefits once the divorce is finalized. When there is a divorce, the service member must update the information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System along with a copy of the divorce decree. After this information is updated, spouses are no longer considered dependents and lose their eligibility to continue receiving health care benefits through TRICARE. Until the divorce is final, however, the spouse may retain the identification card and maycontinue to receive commissary and exchange privileges and health care benefits.  Additionally, even if the spouse does not meet either of the 20/20 rules, the spouse will still be entitled to receive health care coverage through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit Program, for 36 months, although there is a cost associated with that continued coverage.
  • The impact of a divorce on children’s eligibility for medical benefits through TRICARE: The biological and adopted children of the service-member will still be eligible for TRICARE until the age of 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in college) as long as the child remains a dependent child of the service member.  Dependent children of the service member over the age of 21 (or 23 if enrolled in college) are also eligible to purchase coverage through TRICARE Young Adult up to age 26.  Former step-children who were not adopted by the service member lose their TRICARE eligibility once the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System is informed of the divorce.  But former step-children may be eligible to purchase coverage under the Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

If both of the divorced parents are service-members, then they have to decide which parent will be the sponsor for the child’s benefits.

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