Military members and their spouses who decide it’s time to divorce must consider certain matters that extend beyond those that are relevant to civilian divorces. For example, for those in lengthy marriages, the 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 rules might apply. These both have to do with benefits that the non-military spouse may be eligible to receive post-divorce.
Eligibility for ongoing benefits such as medical coverage, commissary and exchange privileges hinges on the specifics of these rules. Understanding and meeting the criteria set forth by the 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 rules can significantly affect the well-being of a non-military spouse after a divorce.
The 20/20/20 rule
The 20/20/20 rule refers to a situation where the couple has been married for at least 20 years, the military member has at least 20 years of service creditable towards retirement and there is an overlap of at least 20 years between the marriage and the military service.
This includes comprehensive medical coverage through TRICARE and access to commissary and exchange services. The significance of the 20/20/20 rule is the provision of a safety net for non-military spouses that acknowledges their role and sacrifices in supporting their partner’s military career.
The 20/20/15 rule
On the other hand, the 20/20/15 rule applies under slightly different conditions. It requires the marriage to have lasted at least 20 years and the military member to have at least 20 years of service but with only a 15-year overlap between the marriage and the military service.
Under the 20/20/15 rule, the former spouse is eligible for transitional medical benefits. However, this coverage is limited to one year post-divorce. Unlike the 20/20/20 rule, the 20/20/15 rule does not grant access to commissary and exchange privileges.
There are many other issues to consider during military divorce. Seeking legal guidance from someone who understands these matters is, therefore, critical for both parties.