When a person goes into the armed services, they become entitled to certain benefits, called entitlements. These can include base privileges, retired pay, and medical care for life. While married, each spouse is able to access these benefits. However, what happens in a divorce? Here is how military members and their ex-spouses can receive entitlements.

Though most service members are familiar with the following numbers, there are some misconceptions about their meanings. This set of rules came into play after the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Release Act was passed.

The 10-10-10 Standard: Ten years of service, ten years of marriage, and ten years of overlap of marriage and service time. This situation is the first level at which the federal government will make direct payment of retired pay to a former spouse. That said, the calculation of the ten years of service is not as simple for the National Guard and Reserves.

The 20-20-20 Standard: Twenty years of service, twenty years of marriage, and twenty years of overlap of marriage and creditable service. At this level, there are entitlements for the former spouse. In addition to direct payment of retired pay, former spouses retain medical care for life, retention of their ID, as well as privileges at the Base Exchange and Commissary.

The 20-20-15 Standard: Twenty years of service, twenty years of marriage, and 15 years of overlap. This would entitle the former spouse to direct payment from the government of retired pay and retention of medical care for life. However, there are no other benefits.

If 10-10-10 has not been reached, but there is an entitlement to a portion of the retired pay by the spouse, then under Alabama laws it will happen under state court order and be paid directly by the service member, not by the Department of Defense. It is a misconception that there is no entitlement whatsoever by the spouse to the service member’s retirement if 10-10-10 has not been reached.

Receiving entitlements is crucial if you or your ex-spouse are military members If you are looking into getting a divorce, you want someone who is going to be on your side. Connect with us at Charlotte Christian Law Firm to find an attorney that will go to bat for you both in and out of court. We will fight for you.

Experience the Charlotte Christian difference. Connect with us by phone at (256) 445-9206, or online at

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    About The Author

    Charlotte Christian, Esq. is a family and divorce lawyer and founder of Charlotte Christian Law. Born and raised in the Yellowhammer State she still calls home, Charlotte is committed to helping those who experienced loss overcome their hardships and build a new life, stronger and more resilient than they were before. No stranger to trauma herself, including enduring the sudden losses of her father while a young child and husband after 10 years of marriage, Charlotte knows what it means practically and legally to put the pieces in place to create a future filled with security, hope, and opportunity, and find happiness once again. An avid sports fan, you can find Charlotte supporting SEC Athletics.

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