Military service transforms lives for those who serve and their families. At times, the demands generate friction and feelings that only a separation or divorce can resolve. Although the emotional complications can overwhelm both spouses, a federal law exists to aid spouses of military servicemembers after a divorce. The Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) contains provisions to make the transition back to civilian life easier and have implications during a divorce.
How does the law protect those whom it covers?
Under the USFSPA, military spouses, or milspouses, have legal entitlements during a divorce concerning a host of issues. The main areas of benefits they can receive include:
Child Support and Alimony: Provided a court order remains in effect from disposable retired pay and having completed the proper forms, they can receive direct payments from military pay centers.
Healthcare Services: They and their children remain eligible for TRICARE health insurance according to the 20/20/20 rule regarding the number of years married, years served in the Armed Forces, and marriage and service period overlap, or a 20/20/15 rule for a year of benefits.
Survivor Beneficiary Coverage: If a named beneficiary on the spouse’s policy, they are eligible under a Survivor Benefit Plan. Coverage will vary, depending on whether the divorce occurred after the servicemembers’ retirements.
Life changes bring new challenges for everyone. The military brings a tidal wave of different expectations and fears. Attorneys who understand the available legal options can offer guidance.