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Can I use the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

When a military service member chooses to divorce his or her spouse, a number of considerations must be addressed for the spouse. A number of benefits enjoyed by military spouses may still be available to them, depending on a number of factors. These protections and more are contained within the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.

In very broad strokes, the longer that two individuals remain married, the greater number of benefits a military member's former spouse may enjoy. For instance, if the couple was married for at least 10 years while the member performed at least 10 years of service, a former spouse may still have a legitimate claim to a portion of the service member's retirement pay. This is known as the "10/10" rule.

Former spouses may continue enjoying commissary and exchange privileges, as well as ongoing TRICARE medical benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits, the couple must have been married for at least 20 years, the service member must have served at least 20 years, and the periods of marriage and service must overlap by at least 20 years. This is known as the "20/20/20" rule. Should the couple remain married for at least 20 years and the service member serve for at least 20 years, but the marriage only overlaps the service by 15 to 19 years, the former spouse may continue to receive medical benefits for one year after the divorce finalizes.

If you face a divorce and believe that you may qualify for these benefits, be sure to consult with an attorney who understands how to protect your rights as a former military spouse. With proper legal counsel, you can make sure you do not miss out on the benefits you deserve.

Source:, "Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act," accessed Sep. 01, 2017

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