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Does My Spouse Have An Advantage As A Veteran Of A Previous Divorce

Does my spouse have an advantage as a veteran of a previous divorce?

Getting divorced in the state of Michigan requires that spouses reach a final resolution in regard to how marital property, custody, and support of children conceived and born during the marriage, spousal support, and other issues will be managed. This remains true, even in military divorces.

Common-Law Marriage

Common law marriages allow couples to become legally married by living together as man and wife. You should note that the state of Michigan does not recognize new common-law marriages. However, common-law marriages are recognized if they occurred before Jan. 1, 1957.

Michigan also honors common-law marriages legally binding in states that do recognize common law marriage.  If you were in a common-law marriage with a military spouse, you may be legally eligible for certain benefits.

Recently, Congress instituted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which dictates that federal law supersedes all state laws as it pertains to how military retired pay is split between spouses in a decree of divorce, dissolution, or annulment of marriage.

This means that a former spouse is only legally entitled to receive the benefits their military spouse earned up until the time of the divorce.

What Happens to Retired Pay if the Former Spouse gets Married Again?

Since a divorce court awards retired pay to a former spouse as part of the divorce decree, the retired pay will continue. The exception here is if there was language about remarriage stipulated in the final divorce agreement.

What Happens to Medical and other Benefits after Divorcing a Military Spouse?

Under the 20/20/20 rule, a former spouse gets to keep their medical benefits and commissary and exchange privileges as long as they remain unmarried and meet the following requirements:

  • The couple must have been married for at least 20 years
  • The service member must have performed a minimum of 20 years of service to qualify for retirement pay
  • There is at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and military duty

However, once the spouse remarries, all TRICARE health care benefits will end. Other military ID card benefits will also be suspended until the former spouse’s remarriage is over. However, if you get remarried to another military retiree, all benefits will continue without interruption.

To re-enroll, you simply need to take your new spouse’s military ID card to the ID card office to get entered into the DEERS-TRICARE registration system.

What Happens When the Veteran Spouse Remarries?

If a former spouse was awarded the survivor benefits plan (SBP) in the divorce and the military retiree is remarrying, there is very little that can be done. The survivor benefits plan was awarded as part of a legal divorce decree. The only way to modify the terms of this document is through the courts or following the death of the former spouse, which will return SBP benefits to the retiree.

These actions will allow the military veteran to switch the beneficiary of their SBP benefits over to their new spouse. By law, SBP benefits cannot cover both an ex-spouse and a current spouse at the same time.

You need sound legal advice and representation by a lawyer who understands the nuances of military divorce in Michigan. Be sure to contact a team you can trust to get the information you need.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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