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Rights of a military ex-spouse to receive benefits in Florida

Getting a divorce when you are in the military and stationed in Florida can be tricky. There are residency requirements that say you have to have lived in Florida for six months in order to file. It can also affect your pension and benefits. The spouse of a military member has certain rights under the law. He or she has the right to receive a portion of the military member's pay upon retirement and the right to use the base or post exchange, commissary and certain medical benefits.

The Uniformed Service Former Spouse Protection Act, or USFSPA, is the governing rule-making entity that gives the former spouse the right to a portion of the active duty or retired military member's retirement pay. You must have been married for at least 10 years while the military member is on active duty in order for retirement pay to be authorized to the spouse. The authorization is calculated as follows: years of marriage during service, divided by years of service, times one half.

The spouse also has the right to use the post of base exchange and commissary. As long as the spouse has not remarried, he or she has the right to use the benefits of shopping on the base if you meet certain requirements. You must have been married for at least 20 years. The military member must have at least 20 years of retirement service that is provable. And finally, 20 years of retirement service must have occurred while you were married. This is called the 20/20/20 rule.

As far as medical benefits go, the spouse of a military member can receive medical assistance on base if he or she is not remarried. If he or she is covered under an employer's medical insurance plan, he or she cannot use the base medical facility. You must have been married for at least 20 years and the service member is required to have had 20 years of service that is documented.

The details can be incredibly confusing so seeking legal guidance may be your best course of action.

Source: Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, "Divorce—Military Pensions & Benefits," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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