Military Divorce Spousal Benefits

By Beverly Bird

Unlike most spouses, those married to members of the United States military have the federal government in their corner if they divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act provides them with certain immutable benefits. This is both good and bad. The rules are ironclad, so divorce courts can’t deny you these benefits. But a sympathetic judge can’t do much to override them, either, and give you more than the USFSPA provides.

Unlike most spouses, those married to members of the United States military have the federal government in their corner if they divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act provides them with certain immutable benefits. This is both good and bad. The rules are ironclad, so divorce courts can’t deny you these benefits. But a sympathetic judge can’t do much to override them, either, and give you more than the USFSPA provides.

Base Privileges

Military spouses enjoy certain base privileges, accessible through a military ID card. This card entitles you to commissary and exchange benefits, and they are not always revocable if you divorce. If you’re married to a service member, he cannot take your ID card from you when you break up. Terms of its revocation are covered by the USFSPA. If you were married for at least 20 years and your spouse served in the military during 20 of the years of your marriage, you can retain these privileges until you remarry. A subsequent divorce or the death of your second spouse reinstates them.

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Medical Insurance

You can also keep your military health insurance benefits after divorce if you were married for 20 years and your spouse served during those years. However, if you remarry, you lose the insurance, and a divorce or the death of your spouse does not reinstate it. You're only eligible for standard coverage, not prime coverage, and you also lose the insurance if your employer covers you on another policy at no cost to you. If the overlap between your marriage and your spouse’s military service was 15 to 20 years, you can retain your health benefits for one year after your divorce. The federal government offers a version of COBRA for extended coverage after that time, which you can buy into.

Retirement Benefits

The USFSPA allows individual states to make their own rulings regarding your share of your spouse’s military retirement pay. Although community property states cannot automatically divide military retirement benefits 50/50 as a community property asset, states do have the option of treating retirement pay as marital property. This means that divorced non-member spouses are invariably entitled to a share. Your state’s law or a marital settlement agreement with your spouse determines the percentage of your portion.

Housing

The federal government restricts housing benefits to a service member and his family. While your divorce is pending, if you and your spouse want to continue living together for practical reasons, you can do so. However, once your divorce is final, you lose the benefit of this housing and must relocate.

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Military Spouse Divorce Benefits

References

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Georgia Divorce Laws for Military Personnel

Divorce is governed primarily by state law, so Georgia laws generally determine how divorce works in Georgia. There is no such thing as a military divorce, and military courts cannot grant divorces. However, federal laws give military members and their spouses certain benefits, and some of these laws affect divorce in state courts.

When You Get Divorced How Long Does Your Insurance Coverage Last?

How long your insurance coverage lasts after divorce depends on the kind of insurance your ex-spouse has. If your ex-spouse works for a large employer, federal law permits you to keep your insurance for up to 36 months. If your ex-spouse works for a small employer, state law could allow you to keep your insurance, but the length of time you may keep it varies depending on the law of the state where the employer is located. However, you might fare better by buying your own insurance upon divorce because you could save money and obtain better coverage than under your ex-spouse's insurance.

Georgia Health Insurance Laws Concerning Divorce

Many spouses have health insurance coverage through their spouse’s group plan, but that eligibility changes when they divorce. If one spouse is receiving health insurance benefits through the other spouse’s plan, the receiving spouse must elect coverage under COBRA if she wants to remain on that plan once the divorce is finalized.

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