Can military housing benefits help civilian spouses post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Military Divorce

The benefits available through military service can significantly increase the value of base compensation. Pension benefits, military healthcare coverage (Tricare) and even housing benefits can help ensure that servicemembers and their families can maintain a basic standard of living.

The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefits available help servicemembers and their families cover necessary housing expenses if they do not live in military housing. While the BAH doesn’t fully cover the cost of off-base housing, it can make securing temporary accommodations more affordable for military families. BAH can help families afford to rent when they otherwise could not maintain their own homes.

A civilian spouse who has long depended on military benefits may worry about maintaining proximity to a military base after a divorce. Can BAH benefits continue for a non-military spouse after the end of a marriage?

BAH benefits end with divorce

Although people often develop a sense of entitlement towards certain types of benefits, the military is not particularly generous about providing health coverage or other forms of support for those no longer directly connected to the military. Typically, eligibility for medical and BAH benefits ends immediately after a divorce.

Regardless of how expensive the cost of living may be nearby, the non-service member spouse generally won’t qualify for BAH benefits. They may need to factor that loss of support and local housing costs into their negotiations when arranging for the division of marital property and financial support after a divorce.

In cases where the local market is prohibitively expensive, the need to acquire housing elsewhere could also potentially influence the military servicemember and their former spouse. Sharing custody can be difficult with a significant distance between the two parents.

Regardless of how willing a servicemember might be to offer support to their spouse, the military generally does not extend any benefits to non-military spouses after a divorce. That being said, the benefits of the military spouse can theoretically influence both financial support and property division decisions made by the courts.

Those who understand what they can expect in a military divorce can better prepare to transition to new circumstances after the end of a marriage. Preparing for the end of certain forms of financial support and benefits may require creative planning on the part of a non-military spouse.