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FAQs About
Military
Divorce

Frequently Asked Questions About Military Divorce

Does the military provide a lawyer during divorce?

There are legal assistance attorneys on most military bases, and in general, they cannot assist you with your divorce, but they may be able to provide helpful legal assistance and guidance. In addition, the spouse of a military member may seek the assistance of an attorney from any service branch and at any base. It is usually the best approach to seek out a civilian lawyer to help you through your divorce.

Is a military spouse entitled to military benefits after divorce?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, or USFSPA, governs the advantages afforded to civilian spouses in a military divorce. The method is determined by state law, but some federal statutes apply. As the laws governing divorce differ from state to state, the laws of the state where you file for divorce will determine how the divorce process is handled. The USFSPA recognizes the right of states to divide military retirement payments between spouses according to their laws. The USFSPA does not guarantee or provide a former spouse with a portion of a military member’s military retirement.

What is the 10/10 rule in military divorce?

There are several unique rules when it comes to dividing marital property in a military divorce. One of these rules is the 10/10 rule. The 10/10 rule states that if you were married for at least 10 years and your spouse performed 10 years of military service, then you’ll receive any awarded military retirement directly from DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service). It is important to understand that this rule doesn’t determine if you are entitled to a portion of military retirement benefits. It outlines how you will receive a payment if a portion is awarded through the divorce order.

What is the 20/20/20 rule in military divorce?

There are several unique rules when it comes to dividing marital property in a military divorce. One of these rules is the 20/20/20 rule. The 20/20/20 rule states that an un-remarried former spouse may be eligible for certain benefits and privileges, such as health care, commissary, and exchange access. To receive these advantages, the ex-spouse must meet the following “20/20/20” standards:

  • First 20: A military member must have been divorced after 20 years of marriage to the former spouse.
  • Second 20: A military member who has at least 20 years of retirement-creditable service performed.
  • Third 20: The divorced spouse must have been married to the military member during the military member’s 20 years of retirement-creditable service.

It is important to understand that this rule doesn’t determine if you are entitled to a portion of military retirement benefits. It outlines how you will receive a payment if a portion is awarded through the divorce order.

What is the 20/20/15 rule in military divorce?

There are several unique rules when it comes to dividing marital property in a military divorce. One of these rules is the 20/20/15 rule. According to the 20/20/15 rule, if a marriage lasted at least 20 years, a military member had at least 20 years of service credit, and the military member’s service overlapped with his or her marriage to their ex-spouse for at least 15 years, then the spouse would be eligible for TRICARE medical care only for one year and not for any of the other benefits outlined in the 20/20/20 rule.

It is important to understand that this rule doesn’t determine if you are entitled to a portion of military retirement benefits. It outlines how you will receive a payment if a portion is awarded through the divorce order.

Does the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provide military members with any protections during divorce?

There are some protections provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) for military members who are going through a divorce. If a member is on active duty when a divorce occurs, SCRA addresses how retirement pay may be divided. Additionally, military personnel who are on active duty may delay divorce proceedings under the SCRA. SCRA also applies to National Guard and Reserve personnel who are called to active duty. Military personnel may request a ‘stay’ for up to 90 days if they are unable to attend court proceedings due to military responsibilities. Additional ‘stays’ may be granted, but they are not guaranteed by the court.

Will I lose my eligibility to TRICARE benefits?

If you don’t meet the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 requirements, the civilian ex-spouse typically loses TRICARE access upon divorce. However, the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit Program may allow you to purchase up to 36 months of coverage.

I'm overseas, can I get assistance with moving costs?

The military may cover the moving expenses of the nonmilitary spouse if the divorce occurs overseas. Other moving expenses are usually negotiated and determined as part of the final divorce agreement.

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