When it comes to serving in the military are benefits for both service members and military spouses. This typically includes benefits like pension and healthcare.  So when a military divorce happens this opens up a few questions like what military benefits is the ex-spouse entitled too? So if you or your spouse are in the service, then it is critical to understand how the 20 20 20 rule works.

The Benefits Received by An Ex-Military Spouse Under the 20 20 20 Rule

If the ex-spouse is able to qualify for the 20/20/20 Rule then it is typically a very big deal.  If there is a military divorce and the ex-spouse is able to meet all of the requirements under the 20/20/20 Rule, then they actually have access to the same military benefits as their service member ex.  So this ex-spouse is able to receive commissary, exchange, and Tricare health care benefits. They are also eligible for a portion of the service member’s retired military pay.

Now if the ex-military spouse goes on to marry someone that is non-military then they may lose these benefits.

How To Qualify for the Military Divorce’s 20 20 20 Rule?

In order to qualify for benefits under the military’s 20/20/2o Rule for divorces, then you need to meet these three criteria:

  1. You and your spouse must have been married for at least 20 years.
  2. Your spouse had to serve in the military for at least 20 years.
  3. The 20 years of marriage and 20 years of military service must overlap.

Practical Considerations

Reminiscent of how spousal social security benefits work in civilian divorces, 20/20/20 rule military spouse benefits are separate from the service member’s benefits. When it comes to healthcare the ex-spouse will not stay on the military spouse’s healthcare policy.  After the divorce, the ex-spouse will have a policy in their own name. Regarding pensions the ex-spouse’s military pension portion is paid directly to them by Defense Finance & Accounting Service, or “DFAS.”

The separation of the military spouse and ex-military spouse’s benefits streamlines things for them and avoids mistakes.  It can also help avoid conflict in high-conflict situations. In addition, DFAS issues a 1099 to each party reflecting their shares of the retirement.  This helps ensure that each is taxed on the property portion of the retirement.

What If They Don’t Qualify for the 20 20 20 Rule?

If the ex-spouse doesn’t qualify for the 20/20/20 Rule then they may still be eligible for some military benefits. There is also the 10 10 Rule. Now in order to qualify for the 10/10 Rule:

  1. You and Your Spouse must have been married for at least 10 years.
  2. The 10 years of marriage must overlap with at least 10 years of military service by your spouse.

Now if you qualify, under the 10/10 Military Divorce Rule, you may apply for direct payments of military pension benefits from DFAS.

Well then what happens when the ex-spouse doesn’t meet the 20/20/20 Rule or the 10/10 Rule, well then the courts can still award alimony and divide property and this can include the military spouse’s retirement.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney Today

Divorce is already a challenging time and can get more complicated when you are dealing with the military and military spouses. It is important to contact the Law Offices of Keith Anthony at (860) 333-6455. Attorney Keith Anthony can help you navigate thru this process, step by step and is open to assist you.