Our nation’s service members deserve to be honored for the sacrifices they make for this country. Events such as deployment in protection of our nation are important and noble, but if a service member in Virginia or elsewhere has a spouse, a long deployment can take its toll on his or her marriage. Sometimes a military spouse’s marital problems become too great, and they decide it is best to divorce.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act or USFSPA addresses military divorce issues. One of these issues has to do with additional military benefits that may be accorded to a former spouse of a service member. Some of these additional benefits include being able to receive health care benefits, commissary and exchange after the divorce is complete.
In order to retain the above benefits, a former spouse must meet the 20/20/20 rule. This means that the spouse’s marriage with the service member lasted at least 20 years, that the service member had performed a minimum of 20 years of creditable service and that there was an overlap of a minimum of 20 years between the time the couple was married and the creditable service. If these elements are met, then the former spouse is entitled to health care benefits, commissary and exchange after the divorce is complete.
If a spouse was married to a service member for at least 20 years, the service member had performed a minimum of 20 years of creditable service, but there was only an overlap of 15 years between the time the couple was married and the creditable service, then the former spouse could still receive full military medical benefits for 12 months after the divorce is finalized.
Military divorces present certain legal issues that civilian divorces do not; however, in any divorce, it is important that both parties understand their legal rights. Divorce legal issues such as spousal support, child support and child custody can become complicated in a military divorce. Therefore, those facing such issues will want to ensure they seek the help they need to make sure they make informed choices.