Depending on the length of your Maryland marriage and your spouse’s military service, you might be eligible for certain military benefits when you divorce. Eligibility is based on the length of the marriage, the length of your spouse’s military service, and how much time the two periods overlapped.
Benefits eligibility under the 20/20/20 rule
If you were married to your spouse for at least 20 years, and he or she served in the military for 20 or more years, and 20 years of your marriage occurred during the 20 years your spouse served in the military, you will be eligible for several benefits after your divorce as long as you have not remarried. These military benefits include the following:
- Tricare for Life
- Shopping at the commissary
- DoD military ID card
- Military discounts
If you were married for 20 years, your spouse served in the military for 20 years, and 15 years of your marriage overlapped with your spouse’s service, you can receive Tricare benefits for 12 months following the date of your divorce.
Benefits eligibility under the 10/10/10 rule
If you were married to your spouse for at least 10 years, and those 10 years overlapped with your spouse’s 10 years of service, you will be covered under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. The USFSPA provides that the Defense Accounting Finance Service will withhold a portion of your spouse’s retirement benefits and send them to you. However, this law does not mean that you will automatically be entitled to receive the money. Instead, the DFAS will send payments if you have a court order entitling you to receive them in your divorce case. The DFAS will also send child support and spousal support payments that are ordered by the court.
Military divorce law is more complex than civil divorce matters. However, former spouses might be entitled to several types of benefits as long as they meet the requirements of the 20/20/20 rule or the 10/10/10 rule. People who have questions about their eligibility for benefits might want to consult with an attorney who is experienced with handling these types of matters.