Keeping TRICARE Coverage After Divorce: The Essential Guide

by | Tricare | 1 comment

Navigating the complexities of healthcare coverage during a divorce can be daunting, especially for military families relying on TRICARE. Understanding how your benefits may change post-divorce is crucial to ensuring you and your family remain covered. If you’re facing a transition and wondering about the fate of your TRICARE benefits, you’re not alone.

Divorce can significantly alter your eligibility for TRICARE, affecting not only the service member but also the non-military spouse and children. It’s important to know the specific conditions under which you can retain your benefits and the steps you need to take to ensure continuous coverage. Let’s dive into the essential information you need to navigate TRICARE amidst the complexities of divorce, ensuring you’re prepared for what lies ahead.

Understanding Tricare Coverage

Navigating Tricare coverage during a divorce requires comprehensive knowledge of policy changes and eligibility criteria to ensure uninterrupted health care benefits. Before proceeding, it’s critical to identify which Tricare plan you’re enrolled in, as this will influence the steps you need to take post-divorce. Tricare offers several plans, including Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, and Tricare For Life, each with its eligibility requirements and coverage specifics.

Eligibility for Continued Coverage

Post-divorce, the non-military spouse’s eligibility for Tricare depends on the marriage’s duration and the service member’s time in the military. If your marriage overlaps with 20 years of military service, the 20/20/20 rule applies, granting you continued Tricare benefits. Under the 20/20/15 rule, if the marriage lasted at least 20 years with a 15-year overlap of military service, you might retain Tricare for a limited period post-divorce.

Required Actions to Maintain Coverage

Immediate actions are crucial to maintaining Tricare coverage after a divorce. Firstly, update your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) profile with your divorce decree to reflect your new marital status accurately. Failure to update DEERS may result in eligibility issues or loss of coverage. Secondly, depending on your eligibility, you might need to enroll in a different Tricare plan more suited to your new circumstances.

Special Considerations

Special considerations come into play, especially concerning children’s coverage. Children remain eligible for Tricare until they reach the age limit or lose eligibility due to their circumstances, like marriage. Ensuring their DEERS records are up-to-date is essential for uninterrupted coverage.

Handling Tricare during a divorce can be complex, but understanding your options and the necessary steps to maintain coverage is the key. Always consult with a Tricare representative or a military legal assistance attorney to navigate these changes effectively.

Tricare and Divorce: The Basics

In the wake of a divorce, understanding the intricacies of TRICARE coverage becomes paramount if you or your family members were previously covered under this military healthcare system. The core aspect of TRICARE and divorce hinges on eligibility and the type of coverage that you can retain or need to transition into. Two primary rules, the 20/20/20 and the 20/20/15, play significant roles in determining eligibility for continuous TRICARE coverage after a divorce.

  • Eligibility Under the 20/20/20 Rule: You remain eligible for TRICARE as a former spouse if your marriage to the service member lasted at least 20 years, the service member has at least 20 years of creditable service toward retirement pay, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and military service. Under this rule, you maintain the same benefits as a dependent of the service member, provided you don’t remarry or enroll in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
  • Eligibility Under the 20/20/15 Rule: If the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the service member has at least 20 years of service, and there’s a 15-year overlap between the marriage and the service, you might qualify for one year of transitional TRICARE coverage. This temporary coverage is meant to bridge the gap until you can secure alternative health insurance.

Updating DEERS information post-divorce is crucial for both the service member and the ex-spouse. For children of the divorced couple, eligibility for TRICARE doesn’t change, but ensuring their DEERS records accurately reflect their custody situation is essential to avoid coverage interruptions.

Navigating TRICARE post-divorce requires a clear understanding of eligibility criteria, prompt updating of DEERS, and, in some cases, transitioning to different coverage options. Engaging with TRICARE representatives and seeking advice from military legal assistance attorneys can provide clarity and facilitate a smoother transition in maintaining health care coverage during this significant life change.

Navigating Tricare Benefits Post-Divorce

Navigating Tricare benefits after a divorce requires precise action to maintain healthcare coverage for you and your children. Understanding your eligibility and the required steps to update your records in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is crucial.

Eligibility Criteria

Confirming eligibility is your first step. If you meet the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 criteria, you retain Tricare benefits under certain conditions. The 20/20/20 rule applies if your marriage lasted 20 years, the service member completed 20 years of creditable service, and there was a 20-year overlap. Under the 20/20/15 rule, the only difference is a 15-year overlap between service and marriage. Meeting these criteria allows you to keep Tricare coverage as a former spouse.

Updating DEERS Information

Updating your DEERS information promptly is vital. After divorce, ensure your personal information in DEERS reflects your new marital status. Required documentation includes your divorce decree and any name changes. This update ensures that your eligibility for Tricare benefits is accurate and prevents any lapse in coverage.

Coverage Options for Children

Children’s coverage under Tricare doesn’t change post-divorce. They remain eligible for benefits until they reach age 21, or age 23 if enrolled in college full-time, or indefinitely if they’re incapacitated. Ensuring their information is correct in DEERS is also essential. Submit custody or guardianship documents if necessary to reflect their primary residence and caretaker.

Seeking Guidance

Seeking guidance from a Tricare representative or a military legal assistance attorney can provide clarity and assistance through this transition. They can offer advice tailored to your specific situation, ensuring you and your family’s healthcare coverage continues uninterrupted.

The steps outlined above, from confirming eligibility to updating DEERS information, are key in navigating Tricare benefits post-divorce. With careful attention to these details, you’ll manage your and your children’s healthcare coverage effectively during this transition.

Legal Factors Influencing Tricare Benefits

Understanding the legal factors that affect TRICARE benefits following a divorce is crucial to ensure continuation of healthcare coverage. The rules surrounding such situations, primarily the 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 rules, play a significant role in determining eligibility for continued TRICARE coverage.

Firstly, the 20/20/20 rule allows a former spouse to retain TRICARE benefits if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the military spouse served at least 20 years, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and military service. Under this rule, eligible former spouses may continue to receive TRICARE coverage as if they were still married, provided they do not remarry or enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan.

Secondly, the 20/20/15 rule offers limited TRICARE coverage for a one-year period following a divorce, under specific conditions. Eligibility under this rule requires the marriage to have lasted at least 20 years, the military spouse to have completed at least 20 years of creditable service, and a 15-year overlap between the marriage and the military service. This temporary coverage aims to bridge the gap for former spouses as they transition to new health insurance arrangements.

Moreover, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) plays a pivotal role in maintaining accurate records for TRICARE eligibility. Post-divorce, it’s imperative to update DEERS information promptly to reflect changes in marital status and ensure the correct members of the family are covered. Delay or failure to update DEERS can result in loss of TRICARE benefits or difficulties in accessing healthcare services.

Lastly, for children’s coverage, TRICARE benefits remain unaffected by divorce, assuming they’re still registered in DEERS and eligible. However, divorced parents must ensure children are correctly listed under the appropriate sponsor to avoid lapses in coverage.

Navigating the legal aspects of TRICARE after divorce requires a solid understanding of these factors. Consulting with a military legal assistance attorney or a TRICARE representative can provide clarity and guidance, facilitating a smoother transition in healthcare coverage during and after the divorce process.

Key Considerations for Retaining Tricare After Divorce

Retaining TRICARE after a divorce requires careful attention to specific rules and regulations. Understanding these key considerations ensures you navigate this transition smoothly.

Eligibility Criteria

Firstly, confirm your eligibility under either the 20/20/20 or the 20/20/15 rule. For the 20/20/20 rule eligibility, you must have been married to the service member for at least 20 years, with the service member having at least 20 years of creditable service, and the marriage and the service overlapping by at least 20 years. The 20/20/15 rule requires a 20-year marriage, 20 years of service, but only a 15-year overlap.

DEERS Update

Immediately update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Prompt action ensures continuous coverage and reflects your new eligibility status. Ensure accurate documentation, including your divorce decree, to avoid delays.

Children’s Coverage

Children remain eligible for TRICARE up to age 21, or 23 if enrolled in college full-time, regardless of the parents’ marital status. Their coverage continues seamlessly, but ensure their information is correct in DEERS.

Coverage Options

Explore different TRICARE plans available post-divorce in case you’re ineligible to continue under the standard TRICARE coverage. Options like TRICARE Young Adult may be suitable for dependent children over the typical eligibility age.

Legal Guidance

Consult with a military legal assistance attorney or a TRICARE representative. They provide invaluable advice tailored to your specific circumstances, assisting in a smoother transition to new health coverage.

By adhering to these considerations, you ensure the least amount of disruption in healthcare coverage for you and your dependents during a time of significant change. Always seek the most current information, as policies may adjust over time.


Navigating TRICARE after a divorce doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By staying informed and proactive, you can ensure a smooth transition in your healthcare coverage. Remember, confirming your eligibility under the specific rules, updating your DEERS information, and keeping an eye on your children’s healthcare needs are crucial steps. If needed, exploring alternative TRICARE plans and seeking legal advice can offer additional support. With the right approach, maintaining your health coverage during this challenging time is entirely achievable. Stay informed, take action, and you’ll navigate this change with confidence.



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