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Are ex-spouses entitled to military benefits?

Being the spouse of an active member of the military can be a difficult road to walk. While many Illinois families that take on this responsibility are able to work through their stresses and maintain healthy home lives, others crumble under the pressures that are imposed by service. When a service member and their spouse go through a divorce, the non-military party may have questions regarding if they will be able to receive benefits from their ex's service.

Their questions will generally be answered by an assessment of the length of their marriage as well as an assessment of the length of the service member's military career. For example consider a couple that has been married for 30 years. Imagine that before the couple married the husband joined the military and served two years before they wed. Imagine then that he retired 18 years later with 20 years of service to his branch.

The wife in this scenario may receive some of her military husband's retirement pay, and because 10 years of their marriage overlapped with 10 years of his service, she may be paid directly from Defense Finance and Accounting Service. However, she may not be entitled to certain benefits like lifelong medical coverage because her marriage to her ex did not have enough years of overlap with his active service prior to retirement.

Understanding what benefits a spouse may enjoy after a military divorce can be incredibly convoluted. It is therefore a good idea for military service members and their spouses to get legal help when they are planning to divorce. Military divorces can be more complicated than civilian divorces and attorneys who understand these important family law matters should be sought out by those who will be affected by the ends of military marriages.

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