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Military benefits for children after divorce

Certain eligibility requirements dictate which benefits ex-spouses may be entitled to and for how long. But, are these requirements the same for children of military members?

If you’re the primary caretaker of a child and are seeking divorce from a military member, read on to learn more about what benefits your child may be entitled to after proceedings.

Do the benefits retained by the civil spouse affect the child’s benefits?

If a civilian spouse meets qualifications for the “20/20/20” rule, the spouse and child can keep all military benefits. Eligibility requires the military member to have served for 20 years during 20 years of marriage to the civilian spouse.

If overlap of service and marriage was 15 years, a civilian ex-spouse may still be entitled to some benefits and a child can keep all benefits. The ex-spouse may also receive a portion of the service member’s retired pay if the military member served for 10 years during 10 years of marriage.

A civilian spouse who depends on military benefits may hurt financially if the benefits are taken away after divorce. This may partially affect the child’s welfare. However, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) does provide former spouses of military retirees with direct payments from retired pay for child support or alimony.

Can children retain benefits independently from civilian parents?

Children of an active duty service member may retain TRICARE health care benefits until the age of 21, even if the civilian parent does not. This age limitation is bumped up to 23 if the child enters college directly out of high school.

Children may also keep their military dependent ID card to access benefits. However, they would need the military parent or another ID card holder to use the commissary.

If the child does not live with the military member parent (an ID card holder), he or she is allowed to apply for a military dependent ID card while under the age of 10.

Other benefits granted to the child may depend on a number of factors. For instance, if a military member pays child support that covers more than 50 percent of the child’s needs, the child may use the following benefits:

  • Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) benefits
  • Base exchange stores

Service members can also choose to cover a former spouse and child under The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). This annuity pays a lifetime, adjusted income for the cost of living that is 55 percent of the SBP base amount. However, eligibility may be retracted if the service member remarries.

Other exceptions may apply to these conditions under certain circumstances. If you are seeking a divorce from a military member, talking to an attorney may help you sort through these legal complexities and better understand the options available to you and your child after divorce.

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