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How the 20/20/20 Rule Applies to Military Divorce

Law Office of Kari Holm Fawcett

With the tremendous presence of the U.S. Navy, Annapolis counts on military families to support its economy. These are families that often face a lot more challenges than the typical civilian family. For example, they may wonder whether their spouses will return from work alive, see parenting duties fall on the shoulders of one spouse because the other may be on military missions or move regularly from base to base and country to country.

Such situations often add more strain to a marriage, potentially leading to separation and divorce. And this brings a whole new set of concerns. The main one is wondering what happens to the military benefits you relied on. You can maintain those benefits through a uniquely military decree known as the 20/20/20 rule.

Entitles Divorce Spouse to Certain Benefits

What is the 20/20/20 rule? It is a rule that provides certain military spouses with key protections such as continued entitlement to medical benefits along with shopping privileges at on-based exchanges and commissaries. In some situations, the former spouses also may qualify for military retirement benefits.

In order to qualify for these benefits, a former military spouse must meet these specific requirements:

  • The marriage to your spouse must have lasted a minimum of 20 years.

  • The military member must have at least 20 years of service.

  • The spouse’s military service and the marriage must coincide for 20 years.

It is crucial to understand that military benefits are not guaranteed even if you meet the above requirements. Every divorce – whether military or civilian – is different, so different rules may apply to each case. A legal advocate may best explain your options.