Divorces that involve at least one member of the U.S. Armed Forces often require special considerations. If you count yourself among those currently embroiled in a divorce from a military service member, you may be looking ahead to your future and trying to determine how to support yourself after the split. You may also be wondering about whether you are going to continue take advantage of certain benefits reserved for military members and their families once you part ways. 

In most cases, you are probably not going to be able to continue taking advantage of certain military benefits once your divorce becomes final. You may have become accustomed to shopping at military commissaries, where rates are typically much lower than those at typical retailers, and using TRICARE military health insurance. However, you should plan on not doing so any longer after your divorce becomes final unless you meet very distinct circumstances. 

The 20/20/20 rule 

The only way you are typically able to continue utilizing military benefits as a non-military member after divorce is if you and your servicemember’s situation meets the guidelines set by the 20/20/20 military divorce rule. To continue to use benefits after a divorce, your military marriage must have lasted at least 20 years. Furthermore, your ex-spouse’s term of service must have exceeded 20 years, and your marriage and that service term also must have overlapped by at least 20 years. 

Exceptions 

If you meet certain criteria, you may be able to maintain eligibility for one additional year of TRICARE coverage after your divorce finalizes. To do so, your marriage still had to last at least 20 years, and your ex’s service term still had to exceed 20 years. However, the two only need to overlap for 15 years for you to utilize one additional year of transitional TRICARE. 

Many former military spouses find that they are no longer eligible for military benefits once their marriages end. However, you may be able to secure assistance to help you support yourself through other methods.