An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Sept. 20, 2022

How Divorce Impacts Your TRICARE Benefits

By TRICARE Communications

The divorce process can create intense emotions. You might feel frustrated or confused during this time. Thinking about your TRICARE benefits may be the last thought on your mind. However, it’s something you must consider.  
 
“TRICARE won’t pay for services or supplies provided to anyone who isn’t eligible for TRICARE, so it’s important you understand how your TRICARE coverage may change for you, your children, and your ex-spouse,” said  Shane Pham, TRICARE policy and program analyst at the Defense Health Agency. “If a former spouse or a stepchild who wasn’t adopted loses eligibility in a divorce and continues to get care, TRICARE can recoup those payments which adds an extra layer of difficulty during an already challenging time.”
 
Read through the following Q&A to learn more about how divorce affects your TRICARE health benefits.        
 
Q: How does divorce affect the sponsor?
A: Eligibility for TRICARE doesn’t change for the sponsor. Once your divorce is final, you must update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). To update DEERS, take a certified copy of the divorce or annulment decree to your local ID card office.
 
Divorce or an annulment is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). As outlined in the TRICARE Qualifying Life Events Fact Sheet, a QLE is an important life change, such as moving, marriage, birth of a child, or retirement from active duty. With these changes, your TRICARE health plan options for you and your family may also change. Since divorce is a QLE, the sponsor and eligible children (biological or legally adopted) have 90 days after a divorce to make eligible enrollment changes.
 
Q: How does divorce affect the sponsor’s former spouse? 
A: If you’re a former spouse, you may remain eligible for TRICARE coverage if you meet certain criteria. These include the sponsor’s status, length of the marriage, and other factors as outlined under the 20-20-20 rule and the 20-20-15 rule. Each rule has three components, and you must meet all three for you to have access to the same benefits as your military spouse.
 
Under the 20-20-20 rule:
  • Your sponsor must have at least 20 years of creditable military service towards retirement pay.
  • You must have been married to the same service member for at least 20 years.
  • The marriage and the spouse’s military service must overlap for at least 20 years.
 
Under the 20-20-15 rule:                                                  
  • Your sponsor must have at least 20 years of creditable military service towards retirement pay.
  • You must have been married to the same service member for at least 20 years.
  • The marriage and the spouse’s military service must overlap for at least 15 years.
 
Q: What happens if a former spouse remarries?
A: If you remarry, you’ll lose eligibility for TRICARE. You’ll also lose TRICARE benefits if you enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan.
 
Q: How do eligible former spouses continue to get TRICARE benefits?
A: You’ll need the following documents to establish your eligibility as an unmarried former spouse:   
If you meet the eligibility requirements, DEERS will reflect your TRICARE eligibility using your own Social Security number or Department of Defense Benefits Number (not your former sponsor’s). When you qualify for TRICARE as a former spouse, you have the same benefits as a retired family member. Your TRICARE health plan options depend on where you live.
 
Q: What options are there for former spouses who don’t meet the eligibility requirements?
A: Your benefits will end at 12:01 a.m. on the day of the divorce. If the sponsor didn’t adopt his or her stepchildren, they’ll also lose eligibility once the divorce is final. Some options if you lose TRICARE eligibility include:
  • You can purchase Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) coverage. If you qualify for CHCBP, you must purchase coverage within 60 days of loss of TRICARE coverage. Certain former spouses who haven’t remarried before age 55 may qualify for an unlimited duration of coverage.
  • You can get coverage through your employer.
 
Have more questions about how TRICARE works after divorce? You can go to TRICARE’s Getting a Divorce or Annulment page. If you have TRICARE eligibility questions, be sure to reach out to the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office.
 
Would you like the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email? Visit the TRICARE Subscriptions page today, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news, and more.
A military health specilist checks the heartbeat of a servicemember

TRICARE Preventive Health Benefits Women Should ...

News
May. 25, 2023

It’s important for all women to get their recommended preventive services. TRICARE covers all clinical...
Read More
Service member poses for photo

5 Tips To Start a Conversation About Getting Men...

News
May. 24, 2023

“How are you?” It’s a question almost everyone answers every day. Like most, your usual response is probably,...
Read More
Medical provider meets with patient

Getting a New Prescription? Check TRICARE Formul...

News
May. 16, 2023

You’re at a medical appointment and you’re getting a new prescription. Before your provider sends an...
Read More
Service member receives vaccine

How COVID-19 Public Health Emergency’s End Affec...

News
May. 15, 2023

The Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 expired at the end of May 11. You might be wondering what this...
Read More
A military doctor checks a patient's heartbeat with a stethoscope.

Key Things To Know About Your TRICARE Primary Ca...

News
May. 10, 2023

If you’re a new or longtime TRICARE Prime enrollee, you need to know about your primary care manager (PCM)...
Read More
A photo shows a young man wearing athletic clothes.

Brandon Act Aims to Improve Mental Health Support

News
May. 05, 2023

The Brandon Act aims at improving the referral process for service members seeking a mental health evaluation...
Read More
TRICARE May 18 Webinar

Turning 65 Soon? Sign Up for May 18 TRICARE For ...

News
May. 04, 2023

Most people become entitled to Medicare when they reach age 65. If you or a family member will turn 65 this...
Read More
A military nurse delivers a vaccine to a patient

Know Which Vaccines You Need and How TRICARE Cov...

News
May. 03, 2023

TRICARE covers age-appropriate doses of vaccines, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)...
Read More

May 25, 2023

TRICARE Preventive Health Benefits Women Should Know

It’s important for all women to get their recommended preventive services. TRICARE covers all clinical preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs to you if you use a TRICARE network provider. But if you’re age 65 or older and you have TRICARE For Life, follow Medicare’s rules for getting preventive care.

May 24, 2023

5 Tips To Start a Conversation About Getting Mental Health Care

“How are you?” It’s a question almost everyone answers every day. Like most, your usual response is probably, “Fine, thanks. How are you?” But if you really think about it, are you fine? Maybe you haven’t been yourself in a while. You’re feeling sad, stressed, lonely, or just not how you want to feel. You’d like to start feeling better but aren’t sure where to start.

May 16, 2023

Getting a New Prescription? Check TRICARE Formulary Search Tool

You’re at a medical appointment and you’re getting a new prescription. Before your provider sends an electronic prescription or gives you a paper prescription, it may be helpful for you and your provider to look up the drug with the TRICARE Formulary Search Tool.

May 15, 2023

How COVID-19 Public Health Emergency’s End Affects TRICARE

The Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 expired at the end of May 11. You might be wondering what this means about the state of COVID-19 or if there are changes to your TRICARE coverage.

May 10, 2023

Key Things To Know About Your TRICARE Primary Care Manager

If you’re a new or longtime TRICARE Prime enrollee, you need to know about your primary care manager (PCM). Your PCM is the health care provider you’ll visit for most of your care. Learn about the role your PCM will play in your health care and your options for choosing or changing your PCM.

May 5, 2023

Brandon Act Aims to Improve Mental Health Support

The Brandon Act aims at improving the referral process for service members seeking a mental health evaluation and allowing them to seek help confidentially, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said.

May 4, 2023

Turning 65 Soon? Sign Up for May 18 TRICARE For Life Webinar

Most people become entitled to Medicare when they reach age 65. If you or a family member will turn 65 this year, join us Thursday, May 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. ET for a webinar, “Getting Started With Medicare and TRICARE.”

May 3, 2023

Know Which Vaccines You Need and How TRICARE Covers Them

TRICARE covers age-appropriate doses of vaccines, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. When you follow your plan’s rules, you can get these vaccines at no cost. Read on to learn more about getting yourself and your family vaccinated.

May 1, 2023

New TRICARE Dental Program Premiums Start May 1

TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) premium rates go into effect each year on May 1. Premiums are what you pay each month for TDP coverage. The new TDP rates are effective May 1, 2023 through April 30, 2024.

April 18, 2023

Living Overseas? Here’s How TRICARE Covers Telemedicine

Depending on the country they’re in, TRICARE Overseas Program enrollees may be able to get telemedicine care from the comfort of their home. In recent years, the TRICARE Overseas contractor, International SOS, expanded telemedicine services in line with the new telemedicine laws in many countries.

Learn More about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Vaccine.