Divorced Military Spouses-Available Benefits


There are several benefits available to military spouses and when seeking an attorney to represent you in a divorce, it is in your best interest that you find an attorney that has experience with military divorces and has knowledge of the benefits available to a spouse both during and after a divorce.

In summary, the following are a few benefits regarding military retirement, Tricare coverage and exchange and commissary benefits:

  • 20/20 Rule – If the parties are married 20 years and if the service member has served 20 years during that marriage, a spouse will be eligible for medical, exchange and commissary benefits until death. Since this is a statutory requirement the service member or a Judge cannot take this benefit away.
  • 20/15 Rule – If the parties are married 15 years and if the service member has already served 20 years, a spouse will be eligible for 1 year of transitional medical, exchange and commissary benefits.
    • If a spouse does not meet the 20/20 or 20/15 rule, medical, exchange and commissary benefits will end on the date of the divorce.
  • 10/10 Rule – Upon the award of a percentage of a service member’s retirement, a spouse will be able to receive direct payments from DFAS through a Military Retirement Pension Division Order.
    • If a spouse does not meet the 10/10 Rule, military retirement is still divisible; however, the service member will have to submit a monthly payment directly to the spouse.
  • Survivor Benefit Plan (“SBP”) – Upon divorce, a spouse can continue to be designated as the SBP on the service member’s retirement. The spouse only has 1 year from the date of the divorce decree to make this election to DFAS. A failure to make this election to DFAS, will cause the spouse to forever lose this benefit. The payment of this benefit will come off of the top of the monthly retirement payment; therefore, both parties incur the cost.
    • If a spouse is not designated as the SBP, then payments of military retirement will stop upon the service member’s death.

Since these benefits can be of great value to a former military spouse, it is crucial that your attorney advises you on what is available and that all the proper documents are done at the time of the divorce and not afterwards. Military.com offers many resources for both service members and their spouses regarding benefits, pay charts, obligations for temporary support, BAH and BAS benefits, etc. that are very helpful in guiding you to understand military benefits both during and after your divorce.

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