In exchange for the sacrifice, mental and physical hardships that are associated with serving our country in the military, service members and their families have available to them benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA). These benefits include, most notably, health insurance. In an age where health insurance and health insurance coverage are at the top of our discussion-board as a nation, it is a concern if those benefits may be taken away for any reason.
If you are considering divorcing your military-spouse you may have even considered remaining married solely for the insurance benefits available through the VA.
The fact is that most military benefits that you have to your name right now will go away once you divorce your spouse. There are some situations that allow you to continue to receive benefits after your divorce and that is what today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will center around.
VA benefits and federal law
Federal laws require that as the former spouse of a member of the military, you should be afforded some protections regarding retirement benefits and the ability to access military bases. In some situations, you may even be able to maintain your health insurance coverage. Typically, if you have been married to your spouse for at least twenty years, and your spouse has served in the military for the entirety of your marriage (20+ years total), you will be able to keep your VA health insurance even after your divorce has concluded.
The same protections apply to your ability to access places like military stores that are on base and to utilize their services after your divorce. Again, the same 20+ year marriage/service requirements are in place as apply to the health insurance coverage after a divorce. Post offices that perform basically the same services as civilian post offices are also available to you under these circumstances.
Retirement benefits for a divorced ex-spouse of a military member
Your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits may be an issue that is on your mind as you consider filing and moving forward with a divorce in Texas.
You may be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s military retirement benefits and pay as a result of your living and filing for divorce in Texas. Under the community property laws in Texas, military retirement benefits are subject to division. In order to receive payments directly from the military, however, you must have been married to your spouse for at least ten years and those years must have coincided with at least ten years of military service for your spouse.
An option for your ex-spouse to leave you retirement benefits
Suppose that you and your spouse divorce and ten years later your spouse retires from his military career.
At that point, he can make a decision to leave a survivor’s benefit to you whenever he passes away. How a survivor’s benefit works is that you would be paid a monthly payment that would start at the time your ex-spouse passes way. These payments would take the place (at least in part) of the stoppage in military retirement pay that you had been receiving while your ex-spouse was alive.
What happens to Tricare benefits as a result of your divorce?
For the most part, eligibility for military benefits depends on whether or not your spouse is active duty military and whether or not you are still married to him. Military health insurance that is provided through the government is called Tricare. A divorce can throw this status into disarray and can potentially limit your access to health insurance or make you completely ineligible.
While you are still married, however, your spouse cannot do anything to affect your coverage. First of all, under any temporary orders that are signed into effect for your case, your spouse will be barred from altering or changing your ability to receive health insurance benefits.
Secondly, it is likely that your spouse will be assigned a person who works in the military who will be in charge of making sure that benefits are still available to you and that he receives the support he needs throughout the divorce. The military typically does a good job of making sure the spouse of a military member is cared for during a divorce.
What is Tricare?
Tricare is the program that the federal government has instituted in order to provide health insurance to members of the military and their families.
Like many things in relation to the military, your spouse has little control over whether or not you, he or your family will have health insurance coverage and benefit at any point in the divorce process. All dependents of your spouse are eligible to receive Tricare benefits. So long as you are enrolled as a dependent of your spouse you will receive this free health insurance.
What happens to your Tricare coverage during a divorce?
Although it may not feel like it on a relational level, you and your spouse are still considered to be married until the day the judge signs your Final Decree of Divorce. That means that you are still a dependent of him in the military records and are still eligible, therefore, for Tricare benefits. There are a couple of different options for a military member to choose from as far as actually accessing health care providers.
Your spouse, as I mentioned a moment ago, can choose from these options but cannot disenroll you from coverage during your divorce. If you are holding off on getting a divorce out a fear that you may lose your health insurance coverage this ought to make you feel better.
What happens to your Tricare coverage once your divorce is finalized
Your spouse can disenroll you from Tricare benefits once your divorce has been finalized. You can continue to receive benefits under limited circumstances as we discussed earlier in this blog. Even if you do not meet the 20-year service requirement for benefits you can still get health insurance coverage through Tricare for one year if your spouse was in the military for 15 of your 20+ years of marriage. Otherwise, your coverage will end on the date that your divorce decree is signed by the judge.
Fortunately, your children will remain eligible for Tricare after your divorce has ended so long as they are still listed as dependents within the military’s records. Tricare eligibility extends until age 21 for children of military members unless enrolled in a college, then the cut-off ends at 23.
Helping Texas veterans is something the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC takes great pride in
Texas is home to more active duty military members and veterans than any other state in the nation. We here in southeast Texas are especially fortunate to have a high number of these folks living as our neighbors. As a law office that takes pride in assisting the people in our community, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC is always honored to work on behalf of military families. We know the hardships that your family endures and see how diligent and hardworking military families truly are.
The rules regarding military benefits and health insurance are complicated and tedious. While you may work hard to understand and apply all of them to your circumstances it is understandable if you have questions or concerns about how a particular law or rule impacts you and your children. The law benefits those who help themselves and our attorneys and staff stand ready to assist you in achieving your divorce goals.
Questions about divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about VA benefits, Tricare or military retirement benefits please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our attorneys and staff work hard on behalf of families just like yours to ensure that our clients are well represented and advocated for. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. Thank you for your interest in these important topics and we look forward to the opportunity to speak to you about how we can help you and your family.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
If you want to know more about how to prepare, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter Them" Today!”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The division of military benefits in a Texas Divorce, Part Two
- Military Divorces: Essential knowledge for Texas residents
- The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
- Military Divorces in Texas
- Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
- Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
- How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
- Texas Divorce - Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
- Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston Texas Military Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Houston Texas military Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A military divorce lawyer in Houston TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Military Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.