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In a Virginia military divorce, a spouse can keep certain benefits if he or she was married to the military member for enough time and the military member was in the service for 20 years.

Since healthcare is such a worrisome issue, the former spouse should understand how her or she can keep those benefits. As with any issue related to military divorce and its aftermath, having legal assistance from a law firm that specializes in military matters is key.

Former spouses who have not gotten remarried can keep their eligibility to use TRICARE for medical services after their divorce. There are two situations where the civilian former spouse can use TRICARE: the 20-20-20 rule and the 20-20-15 rule.

With 20-20-20, the civilian spouse can keep TRICARE and be his or her own sponsor if the following is in place: the sponsor had a minimum of 20-years creditable service; they were married for a minimum of 20 years; and the 20 years overlap the time for which creditable service is calculated. With 20-20-15, the sponsor must have had 20-years creditable service; they were married for a minimum of 20 years; and 15 of the years overlapped with service that was calculated toward the service member’s retirement.

For those in the latter category, the date when the marriage ended is important.

If the divorce was on or after September 29, 1988, the person can get TRICARE for one year from when the divorce was completed. Eligibility will stop if the person remarries; if they buy their own coverage or receive health coverage through work, or in other limited circumstances.

Because health coverage is such a great concern, it is important for military members and their spouses to understand when TRICARE coverage can continue and when it will not after a divorce. For help with this or any other issue related to a military divorce, Virginians should call a law firm that specializes in military matters for advice on how to proceed.