If you’re married to a current or retired service member, you likely haven’t had to worry about health insurance because you’re covered by TRICARE. If you’re going to be divorcing, however, you need to determine whether that coverage will continue.
If you have children, they’ll still be eligible for TRICARE regardless of their parents’ marital status. Once a divorce is final, a non-military spouse’s coverage depends on the length of the marriage, the length of their ex’s service (active duty and reserve) and the overlap between the two. Here’s a brief overview of how it works.
Coverage under the 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 rules
The 20/20/20 rule applies when the marriage, the service and the overlap are all at least 20 years. Under this rule, you’ll have continued eligibility for TRICARE for as long as you like (unless and until you remarry). Your former spouse will still be considered your sponsor. This isn’t something they have any say over.
The 20/20/15 rule applies when the marriage and service are both at least 20 years, but the overlap is under 20 but at least 15 years. Under this rule, you can continue to be covered under TRICARE for a year after your divorce is final.
Note that even if you continue under TRICARE, it’s important to update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
What if neither of these rules applies to you?
While health insurance may not be at the top of your list of worries right now, it’s important to determine whether you are eligible to receive TRICARE coverage once your divorce is final so that you can get other coverage, if necessary. The last thing you need on top of your divorce is to find yourself in the hospital with no health insurance. If you aren’t able to obtain insurance through your employer, you can explore your options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at Healthcare.gov.
Divorcing a member of the military comes with some unique challenges. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help things go a little more smoothly and can allow you to make choices that are truly informed.