Does a civilian keep medical coverage in a military divorce?

| Nov 14, 2019 | Firm News, Military Family Law |

When there is a military family in Mississippi that is getting a divorce, one of the main concerns after dealing with children, property division and support is whether the non-military member will still get certain benefits he or she received during the marriage. A key benefit is medical coverage. Having legal advice from a law firm experienced in military issues can be vital.

Since a non-service member will likely be confronted with seeking medical care if these benefits stop, it is imperative to know who gets to keep military medical care, how long it will last and what the basis of the determination is. The amount of time the military member – the sponsor – had in the service will be the main factor in the former spouse getting medical coverage through TRICARE. The time during which the couple was married must also coincide with that service.

First, there is the 20-20-20 rule. Under this provision, the former spouse can keep TRICARE if the sponsor served for 20 years toward retirement pay; the couple was married for at least 20 years; all 20 years coincide with the creditable service whether it was active duty or as a reservist. That person will get a new ID card based on this information.

Next, there is the 20-20-15 rule. The sponsor must have 20 years of creditable service toward retirement; the couple was married for 20 years; and 15 of those years must overlap with the service. TRICARE eligibility hinges on when the marriage ended. If it was before Apr. 1, 1985, the person can receive care on or after Jan. 1, 1985 or the date the divorce was entered, whichever came last. For marriages that ended from Apr. 1, 1985 to Sept. 28, 1988, the care continued through Dec. 31, 1988 or two years after the decree. If the divorce came about after Sept. 29, 1988, the TRICARE eligibility lasts for one year from the date when the couple divorced.

Because health care coverage is so critical, people getting a divorce from a military member or retired military member should know when they can retain it and for how long. With these issues and any other consideration as part of military family law, it may be helpful to have legal advice from an experienced attorney.