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Understanding the 20/20/20 military divorce rule

If you are going through a divorce, you may have questions about what your financial situation will look like moving forward and whether you will receive spousal support or, possibly, child support. If you are divorcing someone who is also a military service member, you may have additional questions about whether you will still have access to military benefits following the divorce, and if so, for how long.

The answer comes down to whether you fit the criteria outlined by the 20/20/20 rule

The 20/20/20 rule

As a military spouse, you may enjoy certain benefits, such as access to Tricare and opportunities to shop at lower-priced commissaries. Whether you can continue to enjoy these benefits moving forward ultimately comes down to whether you, your spouse and his or her military career meet certain criteria.

More specifically, first, your spouse must have served at least 20 years in the military. Second, you and your spouse’s marriage must have lasted for 20 years or longer. Third, your marriage and your spouse’s military service must have overlapped for at least 20 years. If your situation meets all three criteria, you should not have much of a problem retaining access to your spouse’s military benefits, post-divorce. If, however, you remarry, know that your access to your former spouse’s benefits will end.

Possible Tricare extension

If your marriage to a service member lasted 20 years and he or she also served 20 years, but your marriage only overlapped with that service for between 15 and 19 years, you may be able to retain access to Tricare, but only for a limited time. Your access will expire one year after the date your divorce becomes final.

Even if you do not expect to qualify for your spouse’s military benefits after divorce, you may be able to find other ways to ensure your needs are met. For example, you may be able to secure spousal or child support to help you move forward with life on your own.

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
412 Franklin Street
Clarksville, TN 37040

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