Three sets of numbers mean a lot in a military divorce

Most military personnel are used to alphabet soups of acronyms, abbreviations and numbers. Their spouses, family and friends get used to them eventually. When trying to understand what a military divorce may mean to you and your family, you’re likely to encounter the expressions 10/10, 20/20/20 and 20/20/15.

Hopefully, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to memorize that jargon, since most service members and their families experience a military divorce only once. Here are some brief explanations of these expressions which, like so many blunt and simple military terms, can mean next to nothing some to people and the world to others.

10/10 is about splitting retirement pay

The U.S. military lets states handle the details of military divorces wherever possible, and a federal law solves a problem faced by states enforcing military divorce settlements.

The law only applies if a couple was married for 10 or more years with one member of the couple having 10 or more years of service (hence the “10/10 rule”).

A military servicemember’s retirement pay isn’t very easily split in half (or any fraction specified in a divorce agreement. That’s why the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) authorizes state divorce courts to approve a fractional split. It also authorizes the military’s paymaster to send the approved payment directly to the former spouse, instead of expecting the military spouse to forward their share.

20/20/20 benefits

Certain benefits continue to stay with certain former spouses of certain service members, as long as the former spouse remains unmarried. The “certain” benefits include TRICARE. Others are retaining their official DoD military ID card honored in commissary facilities and base exchanges.

Which “certain” spouses of “certain” member of the military? All the following conditions must apply. The couple was married for 20 years, the servicemember served for 20 years that counted toward retirement pay and 20 years of marriage overlapped with the military service.

20/20/15 benefits

Again, certain benefits for certain spouses. All of the following must apply. The couple was married for 20 years, the service member served for 20 years that counted toward retirement pay and 15 years of marriage overlapped with the military service.

As for benefits, only children living with the former spouse continue to be eligible for commissary privileges, but only until the divorce is final.

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