As the spouse of someone in the armed forces, you have health care for you and your children. Yet, many military marriages do not work out. The effects of one person being away for extended periods can be too much. If you are considering divorcing a military spouse, you need to understand how this will affect your health care entitlement.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) defines how access to TRICARE works after divorce. It uses two rules:
- 20/20/20 rule: Your spouse served for at least 20 years. You were married to them for 20 years, of which 20 years coincide with their service time. In this case, you are entitled to TRICARE for life under your social security number. However, if you remarry or receive health care through your employer, you lose your right to it.
- 20/20/15: Your spouse served for at least 20 years, you were married to them for 20 years, but only 15 years of your marriage coincides with their service time. In this case, you only retain TRICARE for one year after your divorce.
If you do not meet either condition, you lose your health care benefits at midnight on the day you finalize your divorce. Regardless of how you are affected, biological or adopted children of your military spouse will retain their benefit to TRICARE until they are 21 years old. If they attend college or have special needs, it may be extended. However, if you have a child from a previous relationship, who your spouse did not adopt, they lose their entitlement when your marriage ends.
Seek legal advice to understand more about military divorce and how it will affect your family.