This is part two of our series on military divorce, find part one here.
What happens if you don’t qualify for the 20-20-20 rule and are involved in a military divorce? You may be worried about your healthcare, your spouse’s retirement, or other military benefits you have received throughout the marriage.
If you have been married twenty years, your spouse has twenty years of military service, and at least fifteen years of service overlap the marriage, you are entitled to one year of transitional medical benefits. This is known as the 20-20-15 rule. This will allow you to keep all of your TRICARE healthcare benefits for one year, which can result in a lot of savings. After the one-year period expires, you will have to find your own health insurance coverage.
Each state will have different laws determining how and to what extent a military pension is community property and is divisible upon divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs the method of payment. If ten years of marriage overlaps at least ten years of military service, direct payment will be made from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If you do not meet the 10-10 rule, you can still receive payments, but it will have to come from your ex-spouse instead of directly from the pay center. A military pension is divisible in New Mexico as it is considered community property. You will need to submit all of the required forms and pay special attention to the time requirements. If you miss the deadline to submit your forms, the error cannot be fixed.
Unfortunately, if you do not meet the 20-20-20 rule for full benefits or the 20-20-15 rule for TRICARE coverage, you do not retain any other military benefits after divorce. This includes access to the commissary and other on-base resources. You should turn in your military ID to the appropriate agencies. Even if you do meet the 20-20-20 rule, you will lose your benefits if you remarry and will need to turn in your military ID.
Because each state has different laws regarding the division of military retirement, it’s important to speak to an attorney in your state.