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How Veterans Benefits Are Treated During Divorce

Posted on in Division of Property

How Veterans Benefits Are Treated During DivorceSettling a divorce involving a veteran of the U.S. military can be more complicated than with a typical divorce. Federal and state laws determine how veterans benefits may be divided during the divorce. With the varying types of benefits a veteran can receive, divorcing spouses may have difficulty differentiating between them. Some benefits are treated as marital property, while others are exempt from division. The duration of both the marriage and the veteran spouse’s service can also affect how the benefits are treated. Here is a breakdown of different types of veterans benefits and how they relate to divorce.

Medical Benefits

Spouses and dependents are eligible for coverage under a military veteran’s health care plan, such as TRICARE. When a spouse divorces a veteran, the spouse can remain on the health plan indefinitely, as long as:

  • The spouses were married for at least 20 years;
  • The veteran spouse served for at least 20 years; and
  • The marriage and the veteran’s service overlapped for at least 20 years.

If the overlap period is not 20 years but at least 15 years, the non-military spouse can remain on the plan for a one year transition period while trying to obtain new insurance. Coverage will immediately end if the non-military spouse remarries.

Retirement Benefits

A military veteran’s retirement pension is considered marital property, subject to division during a divorce. Military spouses may mistakenly believe that there is a minimum number of years they must be married in order for the non-military spouse to receive a portion of the retirement benefits. The non-military spouse can receive monthly payments directly from the pension fund, if:

  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years; and
  • The veteran spouse served for at least 10 years.

If those requirements are not met, it only means that the non-military spouse cannot receive the payments directly. Instead, the veteran will be responsible for compensating his or her spouse through monthly payments or other marital properties.

Disability Benefits

A veteran’s disability pension is not marital property because only a disabled veteran is eligible to receive the benefits. Because of this, some divorced veterans will defer a portion of their retirement benefits in exchange for disability benefits. However, disability benefits are part of a veteran’s income when determining child support and spousal maintenance. If the veteran is delinquent in making payments, a court may order that a portion of the disability benefits be garnished.

Veterans and Divorce

Military veterans and their spouses need to understand how federal law applies to veteran’s benefits during a divorce. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you reach a fair settlement, whether you are the military or non-military spouse. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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