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Criteria for retaining military benefits after divorce

If you live in Florida and are currently navigating your way through a military divorce, you may have questions about how you will be able to support yourself in its aftermath. As the spouse of a military service member, you may have become accustomed to shopping at the commissary, utilizing Tricare medical benefits and so on. However, whether you will be able to continue to do these things once your military divorce becomes final depends on whether you meet the terms of what is known as the 20/20/20 military divorce rule.

Just what is the 20/20/20 military divorce rule?

Understanding the rule

The 20/20/20 divorce rule determines whether you are eligible to continue to enjoy access to military benefits once your divorce finalizes. To do so, you and your former spouse’s situation and relationship must meet certain criteria. More specifically, you must have been married for 20 years or more, and your military spouse must have served at least 20 years in the military.

Additionally, your 20-year marriage and your spouse’s 20-year service term must have overlapped by at least 20 years for you to retain benefits once you split from your military servicemember. In other words, while many spouses who split from their servicemembers are not eligible to receive military benefits, post-divorce, some, and particularly older military spouses who had long marriages, still can.

The impact of remarriage

If you and your situation do, in fact, meet the terms of the 20/20/20 rule, you can typically continue to access shopping and health care benefits indefinitely, provided you do not remarry. If you do remarry, you will immediately lose access to Tricare coverage. If your new marriage fails, or if your new spouse passes away, though, you may be able to reinstate your military shopping privileges.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex military spouse share children, your children can typically still enjoy access to military benefits, even if your situation does not meet the terms of the 20/20/20 rule.

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