Procedurally, a military divorce is just the same as a divorce between two civilians, but there are a few more details that need to be taken care of when dividing assets and assigning responsibilities. As a spouse of a military member, your family has enjoyed some of the benefits of military employment, including health insurance, retirement plans, discounts, and pensions. Will your divorce end this stream of financial helps? Here is what you need to know.
1. How Long You Were Married and How Long Was Your Spouse Employed?
Some of the best military benefits come with time, and this remains true for you as well, even after divorce. The longer you serve in the military, the higher your retirement pay will be. Some service members enjoy several thousand dollars per month in retirement pay after a long and prestigious military career. As a spouse, you qualify to share in these benefits, just like how you would share in the benefits if your spouse got retirement benefits from a civilian career. However, you will only qualify for a portion of the retirement if you were married long enough. Usually, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years during 10 years of active service in order for you to qualify.
To continue to receive TRICARE benefits, the requirements are even more strict. You must have been married for 20 years, with 20 years of overlapping service, in order to remain on full health coverage as a divorcee. If you have a 15 year marriage and service overlap, TRICARE will allow for insurance coverage for a year after the divorce in order for you to transition to a different health plan. You should know, however, that if your remarry or participate in a state or employer health insurance plan, TRICARE benefits will end, regardless of other eligibility qualifications.
2. Will Your Children Be Taken Care Of?
If you are worried about affording health care for your children after losing TRICARE benefits, you can rest easy. Your former spouse will still be able to list them as dependents, and they will be covered in TRICARE and life insurance policies even when you aren't covered. Your spouse will still need to pay child support if mandated to do so.
3. What About Separation Instead of Divorce?
If you and your children would really suffer from the loss of benefits from your spouse's military employment, you might discuss the possibility of becoming legally separated instead of divorced. This can give you time to reconcile if that is possible, but it also allows for you to remain on full benefits for as long as the separation lasts. This is helpful, because it means you'll still get things like housing allowance and sustenance pay. You can also remain legally married long enough to qualify for the required ten years of marriage overlapped with military service years.
4. Do You Qualify for Discounts?
Even if you do qualify for benefits like shared pension and healthcare, you may not be able to use your spouse military ID for things like discounts and entrance to military buildings. Your ID becomes inactive, and it can only be used as evidence of photo ID, and it should not be used in any other capacity.
5. Will You Need Insurance for Your Benefits?
After the dissolution of your marriage, your spouse could die and all the benefits you fought hard for during the divorce process will stop unless you took the time to insure them. You can apply for additional private life insurance based on what you would have received in benefits, and you can still sign up for the Survivor Benefit Plan, which names you and your children as beneficiaries after the death of your former spouse.