3 Points Women Should Know When Divorcing Military Men

You have stood by your spouse’s side as he served this country for the past couple of decades. Now, you realize that the marriage just isn’t working. Your spouse is nearing retirement and that money is what you were counting on to live out your final years. You don’t want to lose the security of that income and other retirement benefits, but you simply can’t stay married to him any longer. The good news is that you are probably covered under the 20/20/20 military rule for divorce.


To remain covered under TRICARE, you have to meet the 20/20/20 rule. This rule requires that the following conditions are met:

  • Your husband served for at least 20 years in the military.
  • Your marriage lasted at least 20 years.
  • Your marriage and your husband’s military service overlapped for at least 20 years.

If any of these conditions aren’t met, you won’t qualify for continued TRICARE coverage. The exception to this is if you were married 20 years, your husband served 20 years, and 15 years involved an overlap of marriage and service. In that case, you are entitled to limited TRICARE benefits based on the 20/20/15 rule.

If you qualify for TRICARE under the 20/20/20 rule, you will be able to get coverage for as long as you live if you pay the premiums, remain single and don’t have an employer-sponsored health plan. If you get married, fail to pay the premiums or are covered under an employer plan, you would lose the TRICARE coverage.

Other benefits

Under the 20/20/20 rule, you can keep some other benefits of your ex’s military service. You can get a military ID that will allow you to use the commissary or exchanges on military bases. You would also be able to utilize the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs. These benefits aren’t available to people who only qualify for the 20/20/15 rule.

Division of retirement pay

You might be entitled to a portion of the retirement pay he gets as long as you remain single. This must be determined as part of the divorce and each state, including Washington, has the right to order this. There is a presumptive formula for determining the retirement pay percentage that you might receive. This is determined by multiplying the number of years the service member served by two. You would then divide the number of years in the marriage by the previous answer. Some factors, such as your retirement pay, can impact this, so it is best to get answers to any questions you have before proceeding.