As a military spouse, you may find it difficult to know exactly what to expect if you decide to divorce your partner. It may be tough to find time for the divorce, especially if your spouse is deployed, and there are other issues that you’ll need to contend with.
Military spouses do have some specific rights and benefits that are different than in civilian cases. For example, you may be protected with the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, which is a federal law offering protection to unmarried former spouses of members of the military.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
The USFSPA allows un-remarried people who used to be married to military members to obtain certain privileges if they meet the requirements of the 20/20/20 rule. This rule states that the spouse may obtain Morale, Welfare and Recreation program benefits if they meet the guidelines of:
- Being married to a military member for 20 or more years
- Being married for 20 years when the member was performing retirement-creditable service
The military member must also have completed 20 years of service that is credited toward retirement.
TRICARE coverage is available with the same requirements, except for that the marriage only has to have overlapped 15 years of service.
It’s important for you to be aware of your rights as a military spouse because these benefits are not available to people who were not married to military members. Since they’re unique, it’s necessary to seek them out and to be aware if you will qualify for the support you’re looking for following your divorce.
In some cases, waiting just a little longer to divorce may make a difference in obtaining benefits, so that’s something that you will want to consider as you approach the idea of a divorce.
Going through a military divorce is a little different than a civilian divorce, but many of the same laws and rules do apply. It’s still a good idea to get specialized support so that you know that you’re making decisions based on a real understanding of the way your spouse’s time in the military could impact you during your settlement.