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Understanding “the 20/20/20 Rule” in military divorces

Any divorce case can be complex, yet there are certain cases whose circumstances may naturally contribute to even more difficulties. Divorces involving military members in Illinois involve a number of complexities, one of which is the continued access to military benefits that non-service member spouses come to rely on. 

Perhaps the most important of these benefits is healthcare coverage through TRICARE. Military members and their families count themselves among the over 41% of Americans that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports rely on public health insurance coverage, so it comes as no surprise that those who risk losing such coverage due to divorce may worry. 

Continued TRICARE coverage following a divorce

Fortunately for people in such a situation, TRICARE’s website reports that they can remain eligible for coverage provided that they meet certain criteria. Collectively these criteria constitute the “20/20/20 Rule.” These include: 

  • One’s marriage to a service member lasting for at least 20 years 
  • The service member accumulating at least 20 years towards military retirement benefits 
  • The marriage overlapping with at least 20 of those years 

Should one meet that criteria, then they remain covered through TRICARE either until they remarry or they secure their own coverage through a private insurer. 

If one’s case meets the first two aforementioned standards, but their marriage did not cover at least 20 years of their former service member spouse’s service, they can remain covered through TRICARE for up to one year following their divorce if their marriage overlapped 15 of those years. 

TRICARE coverage for dependent minors

One need not worry about their kids losing their TRICARE coverage because of a divorce. If they are also the children of the service member, then they remain covered through TRICARE until they reach the age of majority. That coverage continues even longer if they go on to college.