If you serve in the armed forces or served long enough to retire, and if you and your spouse have recently decided to divorce, you may wonder what will become of your military benefits. After all, you worked hard for those benefits, and possibly even put your life on the line to earn them. MilitaryBenefits.info details what may become of your benefits in a California divorce.

Per the 1982 Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, the divorce judge must divide your military pension and retirement between you and your spouse. That said, that does not mean the judge must award your spouse 50% of your retirement. The USFSPA allows judges to use their discretion when divvying up these hard-fought-for benefits.

Upon divorce, your former spouse may apply for “former spouse coverage.” This type of coverage grants him or her the right to survivor benefits in the event of your death. However, to qualify for this type of coverage, your spouse must apply with the appropriate agency within one year of your divorce. If he or she remarries before the age of 55, the military will terminate the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Your former spouse may also qualify for continued health benefits. To determine eligibility, the judge must take into consideration the 20/20/20 rule. This rule states that a former spouse may qualify for continued medical coverage under TRICARE if the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, the military member has at least 20 years of service under his or her belt and the marriage and military service overlapped by at least 20 years. Courts use the 20/20/20 rule when deciding whether or not a former spouse qualifies for post-exchange and commissary benefits or if a former spouse can keep his or her military ID as well.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.