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How does one lose TRICARE eligibility after a military divorce?

TRICARE is the health plan under which military service members receive coverage. It also extends to their spouses and children, and continues to provide coverage during military retirement. It's also an important benefit to consider during a military divorce, as we have discussed in previous entries here on our Dallas family law blog.

The rules determining a former spouse's eligibility for TRICARE take into account the duration of the marriage, the duration of military service and the duration of the period overlapping the two. The military refers to these as the 20-20-20 and 20-20-15 rule. However, even if a former spouse qualifies for TRICARE under either rule, federal laws stipulate that certain conditions will disqualify a former spouse. How, our readers may wonder, can one lose one's TRICARE eligibility after a divorce?

The first disqualifier is, simply, remarrying. You cannot keep your TRICARE eligibility if you get married again after your military divorce. Even if you remarry and then divorce again, or if your spouse passes away, you don't get that eligibility back.

Another disqualifier is buying into health coverage through your employer. You can't keep TRICARE at the same time as you have such coverage. Even if you do so and later you lose your job and your employer-sponsored health coverage, you cannot go back on TRICARE. The final disqualifier is if you were married to someone from a Partners for Peace nation or North Atlantic Treaty Organization member.

There are, then, some important considerations regarding TRICARE eligibility after a divorce. We present this not as specific legal advice, only as general information; however, a legal professional can help review one's eligibility under the 20-20-20 or 20-20-15 rule as well as any possible factors that would affect that eligibility down the road.

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

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