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How are military benefits impacted by divorce?

Military couples who are divorcing may have many questions and concerns related to military benefits. Determining how military benefits will be handled in a military divorce can be complex and will have to take into account divorce laws and military regulations which can make the process especially challenging.

The more divorcing couples know about the process and what to expect, the better prepared they will be to resolve the complexities they may face.

To begin with, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act permits military retirement savings to be divided as marital property. State divorce laws will determine how the retirement is divided between the spouses so it is helpful to be familiar with what those are. A former spouse may be designated as a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary under certain circumstances so it is also helpful for divorcing military spouses to be familiar with what those circumstances are.

A former military spouse may be eligible for continuing medical coverage provided they meet certain requirements, referred to as the 20/20/20 rule, including being married for at least 20 years; the military member has at least 20 years of service; the marriage and the military service overlapped for at least 20 years; the former spouse does not remarry; and the former spouse did not enroll in an employee sponsored health plan. If the military service and marriage only overlapped for 15 years, the former spouse may be able to receive one year of medical coverage. Former spouses who meet the 20/20/20 rule may also be able to continue to receive Post Exchange and commissary benefits and retain their military ID.

Divorce can be a difficult time and transition for many divorcing couples, including military spouses. Knowing how the process works and how military benefits will be impacted can help ease some of the uncertainty of the process.

Source:, "Military Benefits After Divorce," Accessed May 2, 2018

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