Military Divorce and Health Care Benefits

San Diego Family Law Attorneys to Assist With Getting a Divorce in the Military

One of the most important benefits non-member military spouses are concerned about when contemplating divorce are health care benefits, especially when a spouse has not worked in many years. Health care benefits are addressed under the Uniformed Services Former spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) which allows for continued coverage to ex-military spouses in certain cases. Make sure you are knowledgeable and prepared under the USFSPA because if you do not qualify for continued life-long coverage, you may miss out on other ways to obtain continued medical coverage.

It is critical that you understand how you and your children will obtain health care benefits after a divorce. Hiring a dedicated family law attorney experienced in military health care benefits will guide you and ensure that your coverage does not lapse. A non-military spouse has two possible options for military health care following divorce: (1) TRICARE and (2) the Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

TRICARE no-cost coverage. TRICARE is available to active duty service members, retirees and their family members at no cost. When a divorce occurs, there is continued coverage for the non-military spouse if they meet the following requirements:

  • Both spouses were married for at least 20 years during which time the military member was active, known as the 20/20 rule (20 years of marriage runs concurrently with 20 years of service).
  • The former spouse has not remarried.
  • The former spouse has no other medical benefits. If they do, the primary health carrier must pay the bill; TRICARE will take care of the remaining bill amount.

20/20/15 spouse. If there is 20 years of military service, 20 years of marriage, and between 15 but less than 20 years of overlap of service and marriage, TRICARE and other medical benefits may be available for one year from the date of divorce. Again, TRICARE will be secondary insurance if you already have primary insurance.

When a former spouse does not qualify for TRICARE. If you are divorced and you do not qualify for TRICARE, you will immediately be dropped from receiving military medical benefits, unless you can qualify under alternate coverage.

Children and TRICARE. Children of the military spouse will continue to qualify for TRICARE coverage.

Case scenario. Husband and wife were married in February of 1980 while the military spouse was in military service. They divorced in 2001. In this case, the former spouse will continue to be eligible for TRICARE coverage because the spouses were married more than 20 years, the military spouse was in the service more than 20 years and those time periods overlapped. In contrast, if the spouses were married in 1985, the military spouse joined in 1989, and they were divorced in 2007, there would be 20 years of marriage, but not 20 years of military service. In this case, the former spouse would not qualify for continuing military medical benefits under TRICARE.

Continued Health Care Benefit Program for conversion coverage. If a former spouse does not qualify under TRICARE, there is a program available called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). After divorce and losing military benefits, a former spouse can purchase this type of conversion coverage for 18 to 36 months.

A former spouse can continue on the CHCBP past 36 months if they meet certain criteria. They must:

  • Have been enrolled in TRICARE at the time of the divorce
  • Not be covered under any other health insurance
  • Not remarry before reaching age 55,
  • Either receive a portion of the military member’s pension or be the beneficiary of the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Qualifying under the CHCBP can be complicated and quite confusing. There are many deadlines, forms, documentation and coverage options you need to be acutely aware of to make sure you are eligible for medical benefits. Our experienced family law attorneys will aggressively fight for your right to obtain and keep your CHCBP insurance coverage.

Other options for obtaining health care coverage. If you do not qualify for medical benefits through TRICARE or CHCBP, you should explore other options with your family law attorney. You may want to negotiate medical care and expenses as part of your support to be included in the divorce settlement.

How Minella Law Group can assist you with medical benefits in a military divorce

If you are considering a military divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced family divorce attorney knowledgeable about military law, regulations and the many concerns of a military divorce. A San Diego Family Law Attorney will aggressively assert your rights and help guide you through the medical coverage process through experienced and honest representation.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

Kathy MinellaMilitary Divorce and Health Care Benefits