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Explaining the 20/20/20 rule in military divorce

| Mar 3, 2021 | Military Divorce |

You knew that you would face challenges when you married an active duty member of the military who expected to make a career of it. You made many sacrifices. It was you who almost single-handedly raised your family, while following your spouse around the country and the world, sometimes, abruptly pulling up stakes to relocate to places where you knew no one.

The military lifestyle is not an easy one. And, now, it has placed a significant strain on your marriage. The two of you separate and divorce looms. Now, you have many concerns. For example, you wonder whether you can continue with the military benefits entitled to you while married. The answer: You usually can give thanks to the 20/20/20 rule.

Entitled to specific benefits

There are many military spouses in our region due to Patrick Air Force Base, which includes more than 3,200 active duty, guard and reservist members. And many of them face marital crossroads.

Under the 20/20/20 rule, spouses of military members are entitled to all medical benefits as well as on-base shopping privileges at commissaries and exchanges for the remainder of their lives by meeting certain criteria. They also may qualify for retirement benefits.

For a former spouse to qualify, every one of these requirements must be in place:

  • The couple needs to have been married for at least 20 years.
  • The military spouse must have completed a minimum of 20 years of service, credited and subject to retirement benefits.
  • The marriage along with the spouse’s military service must coincide for at least 20 years.

But, remember, even in meeting these criteria, you do not automatically gain these benefits. Please understand that every military divorce case is unique. Just like divorce among civilian couples, no two military divorce cases are the same. No givens exist. However, working with a top-notch attorney can help you better understand your situation.