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We're Getting Divorced. What Military Benefits Do Our Kids Get?

What benefits the children of divorced service members receive depends on a number of factors.

Dear Q&B,

I'm in the process of getting a divorce some from my service member. We have two kids together, and I can't find any information on exactly what military benefits they'll still have after our divorce.

I would love to still shop in the commissary for their food so I can save some money. Can you tell me what they'll get?

Almost Former Military Spouse

Dear Almost Former,

When I saw your question I did some quick googling -- you're right, there's not a lot out there on this. So I asked our benefit guru friends over the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) if they could point me to the regulations.

The good news is, regardless of how long your service member has been in or whether he retires from the military, your children can continue to have some military benefits until they turn 21.

Before anything else, though, your children must both get military dependent ID cards as soon as your divorce is final and you turn in your dependent ID. That will help you make sure they can access the benefits they have.

In general, children do not get IDs until they are 10-years-old. However, that rule is waived for children who do not live with an ID card holder. When your husband (or you, if you still have the current power of attorney) apply for their ID cards, you will fill out a "remarks" section and note whether the service member is providing more than 50 percent of child support. Whether he is providing more than 50 percent changes which benefits the children can receive.

The good news is that while your husband is active duty, your children can continue to be on Tricare for their healthcare without issue until they turn 21 (or longer if they are a student or incapacitated child).

The rest of the benefits depend on that 50 percent statement. If he is providing more than 50 percent, the children can continue to use all Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) benefits and base exchange stores. If less, they won't have access to those things.

Unfortunately, dependent children of divorced service members are not able to use the commissary under their own ID cards regardless of how much support they receive.

If your divorce was to occur after he retired from the military with 20 years or more of service, and you had been married for at least 20 years with at least 20 years of your marriage overlapping his service, you and your children would retain all of your benefits after the divorce. (This is often referred to as the "20/20/20" rule.) If you were to divorce and your marriage had overlapped only 15 years of his service, your children would receive the same benefits as all other children of military divorcees.

Good luck!

Team Q&B

-- Do you have a question about your benefits? Email the Questions and Benefits team at

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