If your soon-to-be-ex is an active or retired member of the military and you aren’t, it’s crucial to know which spousal military benefits you can keep and which you’ll lose once the divorce is final.
If you and are getting health insurance through your spouse’s TRICARE plan, your spouse is considered your TRICARE “sponsor.” You need to know whether you’ll be able to keep this coverage as your own sponsor or get new coverage. You don’t want to find yourself uninsured because you were busy worrying about other details of the divorce.
Does the length of your marriage qualify you for continued TRICARE?
If you meet the requirements for the 20/20/20 rule, you can continue to qualify for TRICARE coverage on your own. That rule applies if you’ve been married to your spouse for at least 20 years and they have a minimum of 20 years of service (active or reserve) that overlap with your marriage.
You can also qualify under the 20/20/15 rule. That’s the same as above, only with at least 15 years of overlap between the marriage and the military service. If you qualify under one of these rules, you remain eligible unless or until you remarry or obtain other health insurance.
What are your options if you don’t qualify for ongoing TRICARE?
If you don’t qualify for continued coverage under either of the rules discussed above, you can get coverage through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). This program allows you to get TRICARE Select coverage for up to three years after your divorce as long as you apply within 60 days after your divorce is final.
This plan may provide less coverage than the TRICARE plan you currently have. Therefore, you may want to consider getting a plan through Healthcare.gov if you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan.
Can your kids remain covered under TRICARE?
Regardless of whether you qualify for continued coverage or not, your children can stay on your spouse’s plan as long as your spouse is their biological or adopted parent and they are under 21 (23 if they attend college). You’ll need to work out the cost of their coverage in your child support agreement.
While divorce from someone in the military is in many ways similar to any other divorce, there are important differences and unique considerations. That’s why you need experienced legal guidance.