What Is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

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Military spouse holding husband's hand.

There are many sacrifices and challenges that come along with marrying someone in the United States Armed Forces. Likewise, there are also special aspects that are involved when someone divorces a U.S. service member. So long as you meet the requirements, you are entitled to specific benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. 

Community Property

Much like retirement benefits, military pensions are considered community property in a divorce. However, under the Unformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, the rules that apply differ depending upon how long the marriage lasted. If your marriage lasted less than 10 years, the court may order that your ex-spouse directly pay you your portion of the pension. 

The 10-Year Rule (or the 10/10 Rule)

If you and your ex-spouse were married for a minimum of 10 years and he or she served a minimum of 10 years in the military that also overlapped with your marriage, the Defense Finance and Accounting service will be responsible for paying you your rightful share of your ex’s pension. It is important to note that all 10 years in the military must have occurred while you were married. If any of these years in the military were served prior to the marriage, you do not qualify for this benefit. 

The 20-Year Rule (or the 20/20/20 Rule)

If you and your ex-spouse were married for a minimum of 20 years and he or she served a minimum of 20 years in the military during 20 years of marriage, you are eligible to receive full medical benefits along with the pension payments. Medical benefits include:

  • TRICARE
  • Inpatient care at a military treatment facility
  • Outpatient care at a military treatment facility

Additionally, other benefits that are available to you under these circumstances include:

  • Commissary privileges
  • Exchange privileges
  • Theater privileges

However, if a service member served 20 years in the military and the marriage lasted 20 years, but only overlapped with the service for 15 years, the ex-spouse will be entitled to full military medical benefits for a period of one year after the divorce. After this time period a spouse may purchase a DOD-negotiated conversation health policy, so long as he or she neither enrolls in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan or remarries. 

In the event that you and your ex-spouse remarry, the commissary privileges, medical care, and additional benefits may expire. However, this does not include pension payments, which you may continue to receive until your ex-spouse passes away – regardless of whether or not the two of you remarry. 

The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Are Going Through a Divorce

From pension to medical care, when it comes to divorce with someone in the military, there is much at stake. Military members must be sure to understand and to protect their rights and their property as best they can. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.

If you are a military service member and are going through a divorce, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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