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When can non-military spouses keep medical benefits post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2021 | Divorce |

In Texas, any divorce will have its challenges. People are concerned about a litany of issues as to how they will move forward after the marriage is over. If it is a military divorce, there are certain rules that should be understood as they might differ from how a civilian divorce is handled.

While child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and property division come to the forefront in many cases, people who were married to a member of the military will need to think about medical coverage. Since there are many military members and retirees in Texas, it is wise to be cognizant of these facts.

Some military benefits may still be provided to a non-military former spouse

Understanding when a person can keep medical coverage through TRICARE is a fundamental consideration in a military divorce. Under the 20-20-20 rule, the non-military spouse can continue receiving TRICARE if the service member had 20 years of creditable service for retirement benefits, the marriage lasted for 20 years and the 20 years of marriage coincided with the military service.

The member did not need to be on active duty the entire time as reserve status can also count toward being credited for retirement. With 20-20-15, the only difference is the number of years in which the marriage overlapped with the service member’s countable time. This differs as the type of coverage the person can get hinges on when the divorce was completed.

If it was prior to Apr. 1, 1985, the non-military member could receive care from Jan. 1, 1985 or when the marriage was legally ended through divorce or annulment. The benefits will continue until the person remarries, gets coverage through their employer or was a spouse of a member of NATO or Partners for Peace.

If the divorce was between Apr. 1, 1985 and Sept. 28, 1988, the TRICARE benefits will last for two years from the decree or through Dec. 31, 1988, whichever was later. After Sept. 29, 1988, the benefits will last for one year from the date the marriage ended.

Experienced guidance is key in a military divorce

Health care coverage is a major concern for people who might be left without it after a military divorce, so it is imperative for military spouses to be cognizant of the rules as the case proceeds. In a military divorce, it is important for both the service member and the non-service member to be aware of these and other rules that will apply. Having assistance from those experienced in these matters can be helpful to ensure all benefits are received and they are maximized.