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What are 20/20/20 benefits?

The military provides benefits both to military members and their family members in Texas. For couples who are no longer married, though, this can get a bit tricky. It's very important to know what 20/20/20 benefits are and how they may apply to your situation.

First of all, a former spouse can only get 20/20/20 benefits if he or she has not remarried. If a second marriage has taken place, benefits are denied, and they may be cut off if a marriage occurs after they are approved.

For former spouses who fall into this category, the 20/20/20 benefits can provide commissary and exchange privileges and medical benefits. However, to get them, the following criteria do have to be met:

-- The two people had to have stayed married for two decades -- 20 years. That's the first "20" in the name of the benefits. This time is calculated starting on the day the two were wed and ends on the specific date that the marriage was annulled or the divorce was officially granted.

-- The person who is in the armed forces must have been thus employed for 20 years. Additionally, this service has to be of a type that qualifies that person for benefits and retirement pay.

-- There has to be an overlapping period of service and marriage that is a minimum of 20 years long. For instance, if someone was in the military for ten years, got married, retired 15 years later, and then got divorced five years after that, his or her spouse would not qualify, as the overlap is just 15 years, even though the other two criteria were met.

A Texas attorney with experience in military divorces can help you work to ensure that you get all of the benefits to which you're due.

Source: National Military Family Association, "Benefits," accessed Oct. 29, 2015

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