If you are engaged in a military divorce one of the first questions you will likely be asked is your qualifications under the specific time or length of marriage rules. These rules are known as the 20/20/20, 20/20/15, and 10/20/10 rules. These rules are specifically related to the duration of your marriage to your military spouse as well as the spouses time in the military. Although the numbers seem easy, these calculations are critical to the retention of many benefits provided by the military. Therefore, it is important to properly understand these rules and have a discussion with your divorce attorney regarding your eligibility under these rules.
When spouses of military members undergo a divorce, a great deal of stress is spent on the possible loss of benefits that the military has provided them throughout their marriage. These benefits may include, healthcare, ID cards, discounts, Commissary access, as well as many others. Therefore, the government has provided a strict regulation for spouses engaged in a divorce regarding the retention of these benefits.
The most beneficial practice is to qualify under the 20/20/20 rule. This requires that your marriage duration be 20 years or more, there be at least 20 years of service by the military member, and there is at least a 20 year overlap in time between the marriage and the military service. If you meet these three criteria, you will be eligible to retain your commissary and exchange benefits, Military ID card, medical coverage, and morale, welfare, and recreation privileges. Essentially, no change will be made to your benefits. However, your benefits will be suspended and your medical coverage will be permanently eliminated upon a subsequent marriage. However, if the subsequent marriage ends your benefits may become available again, however, your medical coverage will still be terminated.
Another common rule, if you do not qualify under 20/20/20, is 20/20/15. Similar to the first, you are required to have a marriage of 20 or more years, and the servicemember must have devoted at least 20 years to the military. However, this rule only requires a 15 year overlap in marriage and service time. Under the 20/20/15 rule, you will not retain any privileges besides Tricare coverage. Further, this continued health care coverage is limited to one year after divorce.
The final time constraint rule is known as 10/20/10. This rule requires a marriage of 10 years, service of 20, and overlap of 10. This regulation provides former military spouses to retain all military benefits, including ID cards, Commissary, Exchange, morale, recreation, wellness, and medical coverage if the military member was discharged from service due to misconduct of dependent abuse under Title 10 U.S.C. 1408(h).
It is important to note that some of these benefits are not automatic. For instance, to continue with your Tricare coverage, you must take affirmative action to register under your own name and provide sufficient documentation as to your qualifications for this health coverage. Further, if you do not qualify under any of the time limitations, or your Tricare coverage ended after your year allowance, the government does allow former military spouses to opt into a Continued Health Care Benefit Program within 60 days after expiration. However, this coverage does come with a cost similar to those of private health insurance plans and your different options and benefits will need to be strictly considered.
The benefits the military provides to their members and families provide a significant amount of financial assistance and perks. Therefore, retention of these benefits can be critical to many spouses going through a military divorce. Contact an experienced Pensacola Divorce Attorney in order to fully understand your eligibility under these rules to retain your military benefits.
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