What Is a Spouse Entitled to in a Military Divorce?

Categorizing Marital and Military Property

Military divorces are subject to unique considerations that do not appear in civilian dissolutions of marriage. The nature of the job and the significance of the benefits one’s service earns makes obtaining sound legal assistance necessary.

Military Retirement

State courts retain the right to decide how to divide military retirement funds. California can divide the savings between the spouses regardless of the length of the couple’s relationship.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) outlines a 10/10 rule for the spouse’s share of the retirement. Under the act, the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) will pay the civilian spouse their share of the military retirement if they were married to the servicemember for at least a 10-year overlap period where the servicemember was also in active military service.

In the event that the military service and marriage overlap is less than 10 years, the military spouse must personally divide the check themselves, rather than having the DFAS pay their spouse.

Military Base Privileges and TRICARE

TRICARE offers health coverage to civilian spouses while they are married to a servicemember. However, this coverage could be extended even after divorce if a couple’s marriage satisfies the 20/20/20 rule. The 20/20/20 rule allows a civilian spouse to keep their benefits if:

  • The military spouse served for a minimum of 20 years
  • The marriage lasted for a minimum of 20 years
  • The marriage and the military spouse’s active duty overlapped for a minimum of 20 years
  • The civilian spouse did not remarry

The 20/20/20 rule is also applicable to a civilian’s base privileges under most branches of the military.

Survivor Benefits

Civilian spouses will be stripped of their beneficiary status under the servicemember’s Survivor Benefit Plan. This matter is addressed and modified during the divorce.

Palmer Rodak & Associates can help you navigate your military divorce. Contact us today for personalized assistance with your case.