A military spouse considering separation and divorce should be aware of protections afforded by The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) and options for dividing military retired pay. Primarily, USFSPA was enacted to provide financial protections to former spouses of military members, to include allowing states to divide military disposable retired pay as marital property upon the entry of a Divorce Decree. USFSPA also provides certain categories of a spouse’s additional protections and benefits:
- The 20/20/20 rule allows a former spouse to receive TRICARE medical coverage and commissary and exchange privileges if the former spouse meets all of the following criteria:
- The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years at the time of divorce; and
- The military member has completed 20 years of creditable service toward military retirement; and
- The former spouse’s marriage to the military member overlapped for at least 20 years of the military member’s creditable service.
- The 20/20/15 rule allows a former spouse to receive TRICARE medical coverage, for up to one year, if all of the following is met:
- The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years; and
- The military member completed at least 20 years of creditable services toward retirement; and
- The marriage overlapped for at least 15 years with the military member’s creditable service.
It is important to note that, under both rules, any remarriage will end these benefits. It is also important to note that a military spouse meeting the above rules may still pursue an interest in the marital portion of the military member’s pension. A military spouse who does not meet the above rules may still pursue an interest in the military pension, with the marital portion valued according to the overlap of the marriage and the member’s creditable service (regardless how short that overlap may be).
The rules concerning military spouses and former spouses are complex, and dividing military pensions can be challenging. If you have questions regarding these benefits or dividing military pensions in a divorce, please contact us at 717-299-7342 to speak with one of our Family Law attorneys.