Is TRICARE Health Insurance a Marital Asset in a Military Divorce?

health-savings-account Military divorce health benefits come with their own set of complex rules. Military Divorce Tips discusses how health care coverage (health insurance) can be considered a marital asset. Medical benefits provided by TRICARE may be used in negotiations and calculations dividing marital property in a divorce.

On December 02, 2011, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled on a military divorce medical benefits case, an appeal of LEON BURTS, Appellant, v. ANN BURTS, Appellee (Supreme Court No. S–13822). The court ruled that characterizing medical benefits as marital property was valid.

Background on the case:

In the appeal, Leon Burts questioned the original ruling of the decree where:

“The superior court also characterized 75% of Leon’s TRICARE insurance as a marital asset because the parties were married for 15 of Leon’s 20 years of service.   The superior court valued this health benefit at $125,959 based on a report produced by Sheila Miller, and it allocated this value to Leon in its property division.   The superior court awarded Ann the marital home and the marital portion of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Leon earned during his federal service.” Read more

In the original decree, the military spouse was awarded compensation for the value of the TRICARE medical coverage.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Alaska concluded that TRICARE health coverage was to be considered a marital asset. The proposal that TRICARE should be treated different from other health coverage was rejected. They did not accept the arguments that:

  • TRICARE is subject to congressional discretion and thus too speculative to be valued;  and
  • TRICARE is federally authorized which preempts states from considering them in property divisions.

However, the Alaska Supreme court did ask for the value of the benefit to be recalculated:

We affirm the superior court’s characterization of this benefit as marital property, but conclude the court’s valuation was erroneous. We remand for reconsideration of the value of this benefit.

Tell us about military divorce health care in your state

Military Divorce Medical Coverage

Military Spouse Compensation for Loss of Health Care Due to Divorce

Military spouses with a pending divorce might:

  1. Qualify for lifetime health care if they meet the 20/20/20 rule
  2. Qualify for CHCBP for one year
  3. Qualify for CHCBP for lifetime health care
  4. Qualify for no military health care

Any military spouse who does not meet the requirements for lifetime medical care, might use this Alaska military divorce case as a precedent to present an argument to receive compensation for the value of the service member’s TRICARE and the military spouse’s upcoming medical coverage loss and/or expenses.

Military Divorce Health Insurance – TRICARE After Divorce
The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) is not TRICARE but follows TRICARE rules and it is NOT cheap. See current CHCBP rates here.

How was (or is) the TRICARE health insurance handled in your military divorce? Add your comments below.

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