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Can a non-military spouse keep a military card during a divorce?

When a military marriage faces the tumultuous waters of divorce, numerous aspects require attention and resolution.

Among these is the fate of the non-military spouse’s military identification card. This small but significant piece of plastic can have a substantial impact on the non-military spouse’s life during and after the divorce process.

During the divorce

During the divorce proceedings, the non-military spouse’s military ID card typically remains valid. This card grants access to various military facilities and benefits, ensuring that the non-military spouse can continue to use these services throughout the divorce. However, this is not a guarantee. The commanding officer may revoke these privileges if they deem it necessary.

After the divorce

After the finalization of the divorce, the fate of the military ID card can vary based on several factors.

  • 20/20/20 rule: If the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, the non-military spouse can retain their military ID card, along with access to military healthcare, commissaries, and exchanges. This rule applies even if the non-military spouse remarries or divorces again.
  • 20/20/15 rule: If the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, but less than 20 years of service, and there is a 15-year overlap between the marriage and military service, the non-military spouse can keep their ID card for one year after the divorce.
  • 10-year rule: If the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, but there is less than a 10-year overlap with the military service, the non-military spouse generally loses their ID card and related benefits immediately upon divorce.
  • Divorce agreement: Sometimes, the divorce agreement may stipulate specific conditions regarding the military ID card’s retention. Both parties can negotiate these terms as part of the divorce settlement.

Approximately 690,000 divorces happen every year. For military members, it often comes with additional considerations.


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