Veterans benefits

Veterans Benefits for Divorced Spouses: What Happens After Separation?

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides certain benefits to spouses, minor children and other legal dependents, family caregivers, and survivors of deceased veterans. Examples of family benefits include health insurance, life insurance and study benefits.

Every military family is unique, and some veterans are now divorced from the person they were legally married to while serving in the military. Veterans and their ex-spouses often have questions about eligibility for VA benefits in this situation.

This guide will help veterans and their spouses understand what to expect. Please note that legal separation does not affect entitlement to spousal benefits. This only happens when the divorce becomes final.

Does the VA reduce a veteran’s compensation after a divorce?

VA disability benefits do not count as an asset in divorce proceedings under federal law. This means for veterans and ex-spouses that a divorce attorney or family court judge cannot automatically split disability income between the former husband and wife.

However, both parties should understand that laws regarding the division of VA disability income may vary by state. Lawyers representing each party should determine the impact of state law on the division of all assets in the divorce and provide this information to their clients.

There are a few situations where the federal or state government can garnish a portion of VA disability benefits. The most common reason for a garnishment is when the veteran falls behind or fails to make payments for alimony or alimony. The amount the VA can legally withhold from disability payments and redistribute to another party ranges from 20 to 50 percent depending on the number of legal dependents the veteran has.

The reason the VA allows Disability Award garnishments is that its mission is to support both veterans and their families. Federal or state governments cannot garnish VA disability payments for overdue taxes, nor can creditors seek disability award garnishment to satisfy overdue accounts.

Neither party may seek garnishment of VA disability compensation unless the veteran has signed a full or partial waiver not to receive regular military retirement compensation in exchange for compensation. VA disability. Only the portion of the award the veteran receives in lieu of retirement pay is subject to garnishment for non-payment of alimony or alimony.

However, the following restrictions apply in the event of a garnishment of VA disability compensation used to pay child support:

  • Garnishment of the veteran’s disability benefits would cause undue financial hardship.
  • The ex-spouse committed adultery while married to the veteran and a state court upheld that fact.
  • The ex-spouse is living with a new partner, whether or not they are legally married to that person.
  • Ex-spouses cannot receive spousal support from disability income unless they file for reallocation and meet the legal requirements to initiate garnishment.
VA Disability and Divorced Spouses


Unlike the division of marital assets in a divorce which does not include VA disability income, the family court can use this income for purposes of determining child support payments. This is true even if the VA disability award is the only source of income the veteran receives each month.


The term apportionment describes the process by which the VA withholds a portion of the veteran’s disability award and directs it to a spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent. When divorce comes into play, ex-spouses can ask the VA for a repartition if they can prove legitimate financial hardship. Qualifications, the application process and the distribution of awarded funds vary according to state laws.

Here are the criteria for family members of veterans requesting an allocation:

  • The family member does not reside in the same household as the Veteran.
  • The family member has the ability to provide documented proof of financial need.
  • The applicant can prove that the veteran did not provide financial support to dependent family members.
  • The veteran is in jail or jail and unable to make direct payments to the family member.
  • The veteran meets the legal definition of incapacity and does not have a guardian or trustee. Long-term hospitalization is an example of veteran incapacitation.

Spouses, ex-spouses, dependent children, or dependent parents do not need to meet all of the criteria, as some only outline the reasons for requesting the split in the first place.

The VA considers the veteran’s income and living expenses when approving or denying a request for distribution. An approved application cannot impose undue financial hardship on the veteran, even if the family member meets the criteria for applying for distribution.

What benefits can divorced spouses receive?

A veteran’s ex-spouse may be eligible for some or all of the benefits described below.

Health Benefits: Ex-spouses retain eligibility for VA health insurance and other benefits if they qualify 20/20/20 rule.

They must have been married to the military veteran for at least 20 years, the veteran must have at least 20 years of military service, and the military service and marriage must have overlapped at least 20 years. Also, the ex-spouse cannot have remarried or have access to an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

going benefits and divorced spouses

The ex-spouse can only get one year of TRICARE coverage if the veteran’s marriage and military service overlap by only 15 years.

The Department of Defense Continuing Health Care Benefit is available to ex-spouses who do not meet the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rules. They can apply for coverage within 60 days of losing their eligibility to receive health insurance through the Veteran and keep it for up to three years.

Ex-spouses who choose this option will pay a monthly premium for health care coverage based on their income.

Here are the additional benefits they can enjoy:

  • Military ID: Ex-spouses who follow the 20/20/20 rule may retain their military ID for any purpose they deem appropriate.
  • Military retirement pay: Family court judges can legally divide military retirement pay during divorce proceedings because the court considers it marital property. However, this does not mean that the ex-spouse automatically receives 50% of the veteran’s military retirement pay. The judge will divide the marital assets according to state law instead.
  • Post Exchange and Commissary Benefits: This benefit allows Veterans and certain family members to receive discounted items and duty-free purchases from participating merchants. Ex-spouses can retain this benefit if they follow the 20/20/20 rule.
  • Survivor Benefit Plan: Divorced spouses who elect former spouse coverage through a military financial center within one year of the date the divorce was finalized may become beneficiaries of the Survivor Benefit Plan. veteran survivor. The beneficiary designation ends if the former spouse remarries before age 55, unless that marriage also ends in divorce or the new spouse dies.