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

military benefits for children in divorce
(Lesley Atkinson/DVIDS)

Divorce is hard on everyone, especially children. And when it comes to who takes care of them, who pays for what and what military benefits they can receive, there are often many, many questions.

You probably know, that once you divorce your service member, you may not be able to keep all the benefits you currently have. But let’s put that on the back burner and focus on the children.

Here’s some good news, regardless of how long your service member has been in or whether they retired 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 spouse (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% of child support. Whether they are providing more than 50% changes which benefits the children can receive.

The good news is that while your spouse 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% statement. If they are providing more than 50%, 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 divorces.

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