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TRICARE eligibility and military divorce, continued

We'll continue this week with the discussion we've been having on our Dallas family law blog for U.S. military service members. This is presented as general information only, not to be interpreted as specific legal advice.

A military divorce involves a number of concerns that don't come into play in a civilian divorce, among them TRICARE. Spouses of military servicemen and women enjoy coverage while they are married, but eligibility after a military divorce comes with some restrictions. We alluded to these in last week's post: the 20-20-20 rule and the 20-20-15 rule.

The twenties in the first rule stand for 20 years of creditable service (the amount your sponsor must have towards military retirement); 20 years of marriage to each other; and 20 overlapping years of marriage and creditable service. Civilian spouses who meet all three of these criteria are eligible to receive their own ID cards with their own Social Security numbers. They can use these ID cards to access TRICARE benefits directly.

If the first two twenties hold true, but the last category (number of years of marriage and creditable service that overlap) is only 15, the 20-20-15 rule may still allow for eligibility based on the date of the divorce. If it took place on or after September 29, 1988 -- i.e., any military divorce sought today - one's eligibility for TRICARE extends for one year after the divorce. Divorces prior to that date have some different eligibility factors that apply.

Even if they are eligible under either of these scenarios, a few important factors can still disqualify former military spouses from TRICARE. We'll wrap up this discussion next week with a look at them.

Source: Tricare, "Former Spouses," accessed on March 20, 2015

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