Can I Keep My Commissary and Exchange Privileges After Divorce?

Which military privileges no longer apply to ex-spouses of service members?

One of the greatest benefits afforded to service members and their families is the ability to shop at commissaries and exchanges. For their service, military members and their families enjoy competitively low prices on their groceries, goods and services.

However, spouses of a service member often are left wondering whether they will be able to keep these privileges after divorce. The short answer is that time will have a significant impact on whether you will be able to keep these privileges since only authorized shoppers are allowed to frequent the commissary and exchange. The longer answer is a former spouse qualifies for commissary and exchange privileges based on the so-called “20/20/20” rule.

20/20/20 Benefits

Under the 20/20/20 rule, a former spouse who has remained unmarried will qualify for medical benefits — as well as the all-important commissary and exchange privileges — if:

  • Both parties were married for at least 20 years from the date of marriage to the date of divorce decree/annulment
  • The service member accrued at least 20 years of service that is creditable towards retirement pay
  • There is at least 20 years of overlap of marriage and the time spent in military service

Should all these conditions be met, then a former spouse will retain their privileges to which they had grown accustomed. However, if there is only a 15 year overlap of the marriage and military service, then the 20/20/15 rule will apply. This rule provides that former spouses will qualify for medical benefits for one year from the date of divorce or annulment. For a 20/20/15 spouse, commissary and exchange privileges will be lost.

That said, children who reside in the household of a separated spouse will continue to have commissary privileges until the divorce is final. Once the divorce decree is indeed final, children living in the home of a former spouse who now lacks commissary privileges will not be considered members of the authorized sponsor’s household for the purposes of using the commissary. But, children are permitted to continue using the exchange and MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) benefits such as bowling centers and golf courses if the children depend on the sponsor for more than 50% of their support.

To summarize, only former spouses who remain unmarried and meet the qualifications of the 20/20/20 rule will retain their commissary and exchange privileges once a Florida divorce decree is finalized.

If you have questions regarding the 20/20/20 rule, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at contact@themckinneylawgroup.com

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