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Can I keep my military privileges after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2022 | Divorce

Being a military spouse comes with some perks from the government. Your access to those benefits after the divorce may not be set in stone.

The American Bar Association explains that there are strict rules about your access to continued spousal benefits.

The 20/20/20 rule

If you want to keep your spousal benefits and military ID after your divorce, you need to meet the 20/20/20 rule. This regulation says you and your spouse must have been legally wed for 20 years. Your spouse must have at least 20 years of service, and 20 years of your marriage and 20 years of service must overlap.

The 20/20/15 rule

While there are not many exceptions to the 20/20/20 rule, there is the 20/20/15 rule. This grants you partial benefits. Instead of requiring an overlap of 20 years of marriage and service, it only requires 15 years. The requirement for 20 years of marriage and service still remains.

Another exception

There is only one other exception to the strict 20/20/20 rule. If your spouse lost his or her eligibility to receive retirement due to domestic abuse, you may be able to get partial benefits after your divorce.

Keep in mind that if you do qualify to continue benefits, if you remarry, you will automatically lose them. Your rights to your spouse’s military benefits generally will terminate upon your divorce, so be prepared for that, especially if you had a short marriage. The government does not offer other exceptions and will not negotiate. You cannot ask a court to grant you an exception that does not already exist.