What is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) is a federal
law which provides specific benefits to former spouses of military service
members. The benefits typically affect retirement pay and medical care,
as well as the use of commissaries and exchanges.
Eligibility for Military Benefits
If you are a non-military spouse of an active service member, your entitlement
to military benefits depends on the length of time you were married, the
length of time your spouse served, and the number of years your marriage
overlapped with your military spouse’s service. In order to recover
full military benefit and privileges in the event of a divorce, you must
meet the “20/20/20 Rule.”
The following are the qualifications of the 20/20/20 Rule:
- The non-military spouse was married to the military member for at least
20 years at the time of divorce
- The military service member has performed at least 20 years of service
- The non-military spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years
of the member’s retirement-creditable service
How Divorce Effects Military Benefits
Unless you meet the 20/20/20 rule requirements, you will not be eligible
to continue using commissaries and exchanges upon the finalization of
your divorce. But until your divorce is final, you may keep your identification
card and still receive your health care benefits and use the commissary
Additional issues concerning military benefits include:
Health care benefits. Once your divorce is finalized, you will not be able to use any military
health benefits. However, you can receive health care coverage through
the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit Program for 36 months.
Housing. Military family housing can only be occupied by service members who live
with their family members. But if a service member stops residing there
or if no family members are living there, the family housing unit must
be vacated within 30 days.
Alimony and child support. A civilian court often determines child support in a military divorce,
while alimony can also be ordered by the court and paid through wage garnishment.
However, each military branch has policies which require service members
to support family members upon separation in the absence of a court order
or divorce agreement.
If you are interested in filing a military divorce in Annapolis, MD, schedule
a free consultation with the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis today.