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Divorcing military spouses and TRICARE coverage

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Military Divorce

If you’re married to a member of the military, you haven’t had to worry about health insurance, since you likely are covered under TRICARE, with your spouse as your sponsor. If you’re divorcing an active or retired service member (assuming you’re not also in the military), you need to determine whether you can still qualify for TRICARE after the divorce is final and, if so, for how long.

TRICARE coverage after divorce depends on the length of your marriage, the length of your spouse’s military service and the period of time the marriage overlapped with that service. You may qualify for coverage under one of two rules.

The 20/20/20 rule

This applies if your marriage lasted at least 20 years, your spouse has served for a minimum of 20 years of active or reserve service in the military and the overlap between the two was at least 20 years. As a divorced military spouse under this rule, you also get to keep your Department of Defense (DOD) military ID card that lets you access base exchanges and commissaries.

The 20/20/15 rule

If the marriage lasted for 20 years and the military service was at least 20 years, but the overlap was between 15 and 20 years, the military spouse only gets continued TRICARE benefits for a year following the divorce. 

If you don’t qualify for continued TRICARE coverage under either of these rules, you can get up to 36 months of temporary health coverage through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. You might want to compare this with your options under Covered California or any plans offered by your own employer.

A few additional notes

Children with an active or retired military parent can still qualify for TRICARE under their parent’s plan until they age out. If you qualify for continued coverage, you’ll still need to update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) because your coverage will be under your Social Security number instead of your spouse’s. 

If you don’t qualify for any kind of continued coverage, yours will expire on the date of your divorce decree. Therefore, it’s wise to determine what you plan to do sooner rather than later. Having experienced military divorce legal guidance can help you make the best decisions for yourself and your children.