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What are your rights if you divorce a military member?

One of the more difficult things people deal with during a military divorce is losing military privileges. Spouses of military members obtain a number of important benefits, but a divorce may stop those completely.

What you should know is that there are some protections in place to continue providing you with benefits if you've been married for at least 20 years overlapping with 20 years of your spouse's military service. If you remain unmarried after the divorce, you may still be able to receive many of the benefits you had in the past.

What is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a law providing for those who, as stated above, have been married 20 years overlapping military service. Some benefits you'll receive if you meet these requirements include:

  • TRICARE coverage
  • Commissary privileges
  • Exchange privileges
  • Theater privileges

Even if you meet the 20/20/20 rule as above, you could lose your right to installation housing quickly, normally within 30 days. You may be able to obtain moving expense coverage from the military if you have to move home overseas. If you lose TRICARE medical coverage, you can seek up to three years of coverage through the Department of Defense Combined Health Care Benefit program. Children of the military member retain their TRICARE coverage until they are 21 (or 23 if in college).

Divorce takes a toll on all families, but the particulars of a military divorce make it complicated. Learn as much as you can before you decide to move forward.

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