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Do civilians retain any benefits after a military divorce?

You have served your country as the spouse of a military service member. During that time, you have enjoyed the benefits of the military service. These include shopping on base, having TRICARE insurance and possibly living in base housing. You might be wondering what will change if you divorce your spouse. The answer depends on a rule known as the 20/20/20 rule.

What is the 20/20/20 rule?

The 20/20/20 rule includes three stipulations. All three stipulations must be met in order for a civilian to retain benefits after being divorced from the service member. These three stipulations include:

-- 20 years of military service by the service member that count toward retirement.

-- 20 years of marriage between the civilian and the service member.

-- 20 years of the marriage overlapped with 20 years of military service.

What benefits can be retained?

Commissary or exchange privileges and TRICARE can be retained if you meet the 20/20/20 rule and aren't remarried. In the case of TRICARE, you will only qualify if you don't have your own employer-sponsored medical plan. You can get the TRICARE coverage if you have optional employer-sponsored insurance and decline the coverage. Your right to TRICARE ends if you get remarried. Commissary and exchange privileges end if you are remarried but can be reinstated if you divorce that person or the marriage ends in death.

This is only part of what you need to consider if you are getting a divorce from a service member. If the service member is nearing retirement or has already retired, you should also find out if you will qualify for any retirement benefits.

Source: National Military Family Association, "20/20/20 Benefits," accessed June 16, 2016

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