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ID card rights in military divorce

Monday, May 21, 2018

The military treats military divorce and related issues such as child support and custody disputesas matters governed by Texas and other states. However, federal military law does govern certain matters such as pay, benefits, housing and property.

The status of identification cards related to military benefits is one of these matters that is often confusing. Many active duty members incorrectly believe that they can confiscate their civilian spouse's identification when they choose because they submitted the applications for these cards.

Federal law, however, governs who can keep an ID card. A member of the military who illegally takes an ID away from a spouse may be prosecuted for larceny under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

All service branches also use joint regulations governing the issuance of these cards. A personnel office may issue an ID even if a military member refuses to sign the application for a military dependent.

Usually, a nonmilitary spouse loses their ID card and privileges after the divorce is final. There are two exceptions, however.

A former and un-remarried spouse entitled to medical, commissary, base exchange and other benefits may keep these cards. These 20/20/20 former spouses can possess an ID card when the spouses were married for at least 20 years, the member performed a minimum of 20 years of service creditable for retirement pay and there was an overlap of at least 20 years of marriage and military service.

If an employer-sponsored health care plan covers the former spouse, they are not entitled to military health care. However, this care may be reinstated if employer coverage is ended.

A 20/20/15 former spouse may also keep an ID card and covered services for one year from the divorce or legal dissolution of marriage. These spouses were married to the military member for at least 20 years, the member had at least 20 of services credited for retirement pay and there was a marriage and military service overlap of 15 years.

An attorney experienced in Texas family law and federal laws such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act can help spouses protect their rights. They can guide spouses through Texas courts and the federal and state laws that govern this process.

Source: The Balance, "Military divorce and separation," By Rod Powers, Accessed Feb. 13, 2018

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