Military Divorce and the 20/20/20 Rule

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Serving in the military comes with many benefits for both service members and military spouses — especially including pension and healthcare.  But when there’s a divorce, to what military benefits is the ex-spouse entitled? If you or your spouse is in the service, it’s critical to understand how the 20 20 20 rule works.

Read on to learn about military divorce and the 20/20/20 rule.

What Benefits Does an Ex-Military Spouse Receive Under the 20 20 20 Rule?

Qualifying for the 20/20/20 Rule is a big deal. When there is a military divorce and the ex-spouse meets all of the requirements of the 20/20/20 Rule, they have access to the same military benefits as their servicemember ex. In other words, the former spouse receives commissary, exchange, and Tricare health care benefits, as well as eligibility for a portion of the service member’s retired military pay.

Can You Lose 20 20 20 Rule Military Benefits Post Divorce?

The ex-military spouse may lose these benefits if they marry someone who is non-military.

How Do You Qualify for the Military Divorce’s 20 20 20 Rule?

In order to qualify for benefits under the military’s 20/20/2o Rule for divorces, you need to meet three criteria:

  1. You and your spouse must have been married for at least 20 years.
  2. Your spouse had to serve in the military for at least 20 years.
  3. The 20 years of marriage and 20 years of military service must overlap.

The “20/20/20 Rule” name makes a lot of sense once you understand what it means.

What Are Some Practical Considerations for Military Divorce and the 20 20 20 Rule?

Reminiscent of how spousal social security benefits work in civilian divorces, 20/20/20 rule military spouse benefits are separate from the service member’s benefits. In other words:

  • Healthcare – The ex-spouse does not stay on the military spouse’s healthcare policy. Post-divorce, they have a policy in their own name.
  • Pension – The ex-spouse’s military pension portion is paid directly to them by Defense Finance & Accounting Service, or “DFAS.”

The separation of the military spouse and ex-military spouse’s benefits streamlines things for them and avoids mistakes. It can also help avoid conflict in high-conflict situations. In addition, DFAS issues a 1099 to each party reflecting their shares of the retirement. This helps ensure that each is taxed on the property portion of the retirement.

What Happens of a Military Spouse Doesn’t Qualify for the 20 20 20 Rule?

Spouses who do not qualify for the 20/20/20 Rule may still be eligible for some military benefits.

Military Divorce and the 10 10 Rule

In order to qualify for the 10/10 Rule:

  1. You and Your Spouse must have been married for at least 10 years.
  2. The 10 years of marriage must overlap with at least 10 years of military service by your spouse.

If you qualify, under the 10/10 Military Divorce Rule, you may apply for direct payment of military pension benefits from DFAS.

Can Courts Divide Military Benefits With Under 10 Years of Service?

Even if you don’t meet the 20/20/20 Rule or the 10/10 Rule, courts can still award alimony and divide property — including the military spouse’s retirement.

Next Steps

Now that you have learned more about divorce in Connecticut, you may want to check out our Divorce Information and Facts for answers on other topics.

Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC