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What is a Military Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Georgia?

by Sharon Jackson  on November 23, 2023 under 

In Georgia, a military wife may still be entitled to a variety of military benefits even after divorce. Depending on how long they were married and for how long her spouse was an active military member, the non-service member's wife may receive benefits like health care and commissary privileges.

Wife May Get a Portion of Her Spouse's Military Benefits

Military divorces in Georgia conform with both state law and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). According to the USFSPA, military service members must make contributions towards retirement as a way of protecting their non-serving spouses. Non-service member wives frequently relocate with their husbands and make sacrifices in their career growth, hence the law may provide them a share of the military benefits.

Under the USFSPA, military retirement accounts are considered assets. This federal act also grants state courts the authority to distribute military retirement pay and other assets among divorcing parties.

If the retirement account meets the state’s definition of “marital assets,” state court may divide this account between the spouses. In Georgia, “marital assets” generally refers to property that either spouse acquired throughout the marriage. Military benefits that can be considered marital property under the USFSPA include:

  • Military Retirement
  • Pensions
  • Health coverage

How Military Retirement Pay is Divided Under the USFSPA

While divorce proceedings typically entail the division of retirement pensions, a former spouse is not automatically entitled to a share of the military spouse's retirement. Eligibility to this benefit, as well as other military benefits, depends on the “20/20/20 rule,” which we discuss below.

The amount of the wife's share will depend on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the length of the husband's military service, and the wife's contributions to the marriage.

The 20/20/20 Rule in Dividing Military Benefits

To be eligible for certain benefits, former spouses of military service members must meet the requirements in what is referred to as the “20/20/20 rule.” The conditions of the rule are:

  • The duration of the marriage should be at least 20 years.
  • The servicemember spouse should have actively served for a minimum of 20 years.
  • The first two conditions must have 20 years of overlap.

Meeting all three criteria of the 20/20/20 rule would enable a couple to secure their military ID card and avail certain additional benefits for the former spouse. These include medical coverage via TRICARE and access to commissaries. The non-serving former spouse can continue enjoying these privileges as long as she remains unmarried.

If a military wife cannot meet the 20/20/20 rule, she may still be eligible for continuing TRICARE if she fulfills the 20/20/15 rule. This rule shares the same first two criteria as the 20/20/20 rule but with a reduced requirement of 15 years of overlapping marriage and military service. The continuing TRICARE coverage will only be transitional, meaning it will only last up to 12 months after the divorce.

What is The Leading Cause of Divorce in The Military?

Military couples encounter various unique stressors that can strain their relationships, including:


Deployments can be lengthy and unpredictable, placing immense stress on both the deployed spouse and the spouse who remains at home.

Frequent relocations

Military families often undergo multiple moves throughout their careers, which can disrupt their lives and increase stress levels.

Financial burdens

Military families may face financial stress due to the high cost of living, expenses related to childcare, and the absence of one working spouse due to deployment.

Communication difficulties

Maintaining effective communication can be challenging for military couples, especially when they are separated by long distances.

Lack of intimacy

Maintaining intimacy can be challenging for military couples as they are physically separated during deployments and face frequent relocations, which can hinder their emotional closeness.


Geographical separation commonly contributes to infidelity issues in military marriages.

Psychological problems

Military couples often encounter mental health challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can significantly impact their relationships.

Given that stress is a common underlying factor in the above-mentioned issues, some may consider it the leading cause of divorce within the military community.

Will The Military Pay For A Spouse To Move After Divorce?

If the non-military spouse is living in an overseas duty station, the military will sometimes pay for their expenses to move back home after a divorce. If the move is in-state, moving costs are usually the responsibility of the divorcing parties.

It is crucial to ensure that the divorce settlement agreement incorporates the costs associated with relocation. At the Sharon Jackson firm, you can rely on our military divorce attorney to skillfully negotiate moving expenses throughout the divorce proceedings.

Is Your Spouse Entitled to Your Military Pension in a Divorce?

According to federal law, military retirement benefits are considered an asset that can be divided in case of a divorce. Consequently, the ex-spouse of a servicemember may be entitled to a share of the military pension post-divorce.

Note that remarriage of either party does not affect this arrangement. Regardless of marital status, the former spouse will continue receiving pension payments once the servicemember retires.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Divorce Attorney

If you need assistance with a military divorce in Georgia, contact Attorney Sharon Jackson, LLC. We will assist you in navigating the complex field of military divorce, helping you secure your interests and prepare for a favorable future.

Call (678) 909-4100 to schedule an initial consultation.


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