Military Benefits and Divorce
Military benefits fall into several categories post-divorce. What this means is that the former spouse of the military member may receive some of these benefits as part of the division of property, and some military spouse benefits after divorce will persist as long as certain conditions have been met. Other benefits, such as VA disability, are not applicable.
New Mexico Financial & Family can provide assistance to military service members or their spouses when it comes to deciphering military spouse benefits after divorce. New Mexico law allows some benefits, such as military spouse retirement benefits, to be considered divisible property. However, federal law prevents certain other types of benefits from being divided. We will assist you in interpreting New Mexico laws, federal laws, and military code in order to help you strategize for the best possible outcome.
Schedule a risk-free, confidential case discussion today when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online.
Military Spouse Retirement Benefits After Divorce
According to New Mexico law, military spouse retirement benefits count as divisible property for the purposes of the divorce decree. This rule applies only to the portion of benefits that would have accrued during the couple’s marriage.
In order to be eligible to divide military spouse retirement benefits after divorce and be paid directly by the DFAS, the couple must satisfy the 10/10/10 rule. In sum, this rule states that the couple must have been married during a period of at least 10 years in order for the service member’s spouse to be eligible to receive retirement benefits post-divorce.
If the couple’s marriage did not satisfy the 10/10/10 requirement, then the former spouse is not eligible to receive payment directly from DFAS. Instead, the service member must pay the retirement benefits either on an ongoing monthly basis as they receive them, or they must pay them in a lump sum as a condition of the divorce decree.
VA Disability Benefits After Divorce
VA disability benefits do not qualify as divisible property in cases of divorce. As such, former spouses of military service members are not entitled to any portion of the service member’s disability benefits plan.
Military Survivor Benefits for Divorced Spouse
A service member may still voluntarily name their former spouse as the beneficiary of their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). This former spouse must be designated with 1 year of the divorce. Also, remarriage before the age of 55 will cause the beneficiary status to be terminated, unless the remarriage later ends through divorce or death.
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Benefits After Divorce
Similar to a 401(k), a military Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) allows for the service member to set aside money to be invested for the purposes of saving for retirement. The military will typically match contributions made to this account.
A TSP can count as divisible property during a divorce. A service member can also designate a former spouse as their named beneficiary in the event of their death before retirement.
Military Medical Benefits After Divorce
The spouse of a military service member is eligible to remain on a Tricare health plan following a divorce so long as they satisfy the 20/20/20 rule. This eligibility will terminate if the spouse remarries, however. If the spouse is ineligible to receive other benefits, such as military retirement or SBP, then their Tricare eligibility may expire after three years.
Individuals who meet 20/20/15 rules — meaning 20 years of marriage, 20 years of service, and at least 15 years of overlap — are eligible for transitional coverage for a period of up to one year.
Individuals whose marriage had less than the 20/20/15 period may still be eligible for CHCBP, which is a transitional program similar to COBRA. This program allows former spouses to continue Tricare coverage at a larger premium for a period of up to 36 months.
Military Benefits After Divorce Can Be Complex, So Consult With Experienced Divorce Attorneys
Federal laws have been put in place to make the process of dividing property for divorcing military couples simpler. These laws also aim to protect former military spouses from financial hardship. However, the complicated conditions of these laws can cause some to overlook their rights during a military divorce. In other words, you may risk losing entitlement to benefits, medical coverage, or other important forms of compensation if you do not understand the law and how it applies to you.
New Mexico Financial & Family Law has practiced divorce law for over 20 years, and we understand the unique challenges facing military service members and their spouses during divorce. We can assist you with interpreting the law and forming a legal strategy for the division of property — and benefits — during the formation of the divorce decree.
Whether you are a service member or a current spouse, your sacrifices deserve recognition. We at New Mexico Financial & Family Law aim to provide a full-service experience, helping you go through the process of divorce efficiently, with minimal stress, and with clarity as to all of your legal options.
Schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your available legal strategies when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online today.