A special federal law may guide how Hawaii courts treat benefits when service members and their non-military spouses divorce.

Military.com explains that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act covers military retired pay and certain other benefits in a divorce.

Retired pay and the 10/10 rule

An ex-spouse who seeks to share the military spouse’s retired pay must ask the family court to include this pay in the couple’s property division. To enforce a property division order under the USFSPA, the service member and spouse must have stayed married to each other for at least 10 years. During this 10-year period, the service member must have logged at least 10 years of service that count toward retirement.

Health care and other benefits

Ex-spouses may receive full commissary, exchange and health care benefits if they meet the 20/20/20 rule:

  • The military spouse must have served 20 years or more.
  • The marriage must have lasted at least 20 years.
  • The service period and the marriage must have overlapped by 20 years or longer.

The 20/20/15 rule applies if the couple meets these conditions but marriage and service overlapped by only 15 years. In such case, the ex-spouse may receive military medical benefits for one year after the divorce. Former spouses who do not meet the 20/20/15 rule or whose one-year benefits period expires may have the option for premium-based health care.

Survivor benefit plan designation

Military OneSource explains how the USFSPA may also affect survivor benefit plans. Ex-spouses may retain their beneficiary designation if ordered by a court or approved by the parties. Spouses who remarry before they turn 55 years old will lose these benefits for as long as they stay remarried. Coverage levels may depend on whether divorce occurs before or after retirement.