There is a lot at stake in any divorce. If you are married to a service member, one thing to consider is how divorce will affect your entitlement to TRICARE. Taking out a new health care policy will be expensive, especially if you have certain pre-existing conditions.
You are not the first person to wonder how divorce affects TRICARE entitlement. That is why The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) lays down clear rules on this matter. If your spouse has not served for 20 years, you will not keep TRICARE after divorce. If they have, you might.
You keep TRICARE if you meet the 20/20/20 rule
The 20/20/20 rule is part of the USFSPA. If you meet the conditions of the rule, you can keep TRICARE for the rest of your life. However, if you remarry or receive health care from an employer at any point, you will lose your entitlement.
The three 20s you need to meet are:
1. Your spouse has 20 years of creditable service
2. You have been married for 20 years
3. 20 years of your marriage coincide with their 20 years of service
What happens if you meet conditions one and two, but only 15 to 19 years of your marriage coincide with your spouse serving? In this case, you keep TRICARE for one year after your divorce. If you are close to meeting the 20/20/20 rule, it may pay to wait before filing for divorce. TRICARE is a lot to lose.
Entitlement to TRICARE is not the only issue unique to a military divorce. It helps to have an attorney who has personal and professional experience of the subject to answer your questions and guide you through the process.