Divorce is an unfortunate result of the many pressures of life on a marriage.
Veterans and their dependents have a lot to be concerned about when contemplating a divorce.
Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt.
In general terms, status as a veteran has little meaning in the family court. Family courts today are overwhelmed with workloads and most of the proceedings are abrupt and by the book.
The VA is not interested in your marital woes except in cases where an application for an apportionment of benefits is filed.
Divorce must be promptly reported to VA so that any compensation or pension may be properly adjusted. If the veteran divorces and doesn’t tell VA, VA may continue to provide a spousal monetary benefit to the veteran. Once VA discovers the error, VA will attempt to recover that money. Click here for the form to report to the VA.
The veterans VA money (pension or compensation) may be used in calculations to determine financial status…such as how much alimony or child support may be owed. In a recent article there is an example of a disabled veteran petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for a change in the status of how VA makes these rulings here.
There are many rumors on the Internet that tell veterans that their VA payments are somehow protected from the divorce obligation calculations. This is not true.
Withholding information about VA disability pay may result in punitive actions by the family court. Each of the parties in a divorce action must be honest in stating their financial status.
Most divorce or family law attorneys do not know anything about VA regulations. Except in cases of apportionment, the family court will not be interested in anything regarding the veterans status.
If you divorce a retired veteran, are you still eligible for TRICARE benefits?
To be clear, CHAMPVA is for dependents of 100% permanent and totally disabled veterans. TRICARE is the health care program serving active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors and certain former spouses worldwide.
TRICARE eligibility for some family members may change:
Former Spouses Eligibility
As of 12:01 a.m. on the day of the divorce, your benefits end unless you meet the eligibility requirements of a former spouse. This information is a summary of TRICARE eligibility requirements for unremarried former spouses; each situation may be unique. You need to verify your eligibility as recorded in the in Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and contact the appropriate Service Personnel Component or the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office if you have eligibility questions or concerns.
Service Personnel Components Contacts:
Army and Army Reserve 1-888-276-9472
Army National Guard 1-866-810-9183
Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard 1-800-525-0102
Navy and Navy Reserve 1-901-874-3462
Marine Corps 1-703-784-9529
Marine Corps Reserve 1-504-678-1299
Coast Guard (Fax) 1-202-475-5927
NOAA (Fax) 1-301-713-4140
Public Health Service 1-240-453-6038
If you are an unremarried former spouse, you may be eligible for TRICARE if your [former sponsor’s] Service Personnel Component determines that you fit one of the following scenarios. In both scenarios your sponsor must have at least 20 years of creditable service towards determining retirement pay. You will need the following documentation to establish your eligibility as an unremarried former spouse:
• Marriage Certificate
• Divorce Decree
• DD Form 214 or Statement of Service from the applicable Service Personnel Component
Biological and adopted children of the sponsor remain eligible for TRICARE up to age 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in college, learn more) as long as the child remains a dependent child (i.e. is not married or serving on active duty.) Stepchildren who were not adopted by the sponsor lose TRICARE eligibility once DEERS is updated with the divorce decree. Upon loss of eligibility, stepchildren may be eligible to purchase coverage under the Continued Health Care Benefits Program.