How the 20/20/20 rule affects military benefits of former spouses

If you are a military spouse considering a divorce in Michigan, you may have heard about the 20/20/20 rule but be unclear about how it affects your benefits and those of your children. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., we understand the issues that may arise in these unique circumstances.

According to Military Benefits, the 20/20/20 rule addresses the requirements to receive military benefits in the event of a divorce. Eligible ex-spouses can keep their military ID card and retain all associated benefits. This includes access to Commissary facilities, military discounts at businesses that offer them, Base Exchanges and TRICARE.

Benefit requirements include the following:

  • Married at least 20 years
  • Marriage must overlap with the spouse’s military service for at least 20 years
  • Spouse’s 20 years’ service makes them eligible for retirement pay

TRICARE benefits are not automatic. Un-married, ex-spouses must re-register using their own Social Security number and name. Documentation requirements include the divorce decree, marriage certificate and proof of military service.

Spouse status does not affect military dependents. Children can maintain TRICARE coverage and keep their ID card until they marry or turn 22, whichever comes first. The military rule and requirements are separate from the legal divorce proceedings.

Former military spouses become ineligible for benefits upon remarriage. However, servicemembers may get remarried without affecting their single ex’s benefits.

Several rules affect benefits and the timing of paperwork delivery to active service members, making the notification process and divorce proceedings a challenge. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic. 

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