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Do I lose my access to base housing and dependent ID card when my service member spouse and I divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2021 | Military Law |

If you’re a member of a military family, then you’ve likely grown accustomed to the benefits that come with serving our nation. Some of these include on-base or subsidized housing and commissary privileges.

You’ll want to apprise yourself of what becomes of them once you divorce so that you can make plans for what comes next.

Who owns your military ID card?

Military identification (ID) cards don’t belong to service members or their spouses. They are U.S. government property. A service member can’t arbitrarily confiscate their spouse’s ID card as they plan to divorce. If they do, they could face larceny charges under Article 121 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Civilian spouses generally lose their military ID and associated privileges once a judge finalizes their divorce, with two exceptions:

  • The service member and their spouse were married 20 or more years before the divorce
  • The service member is at least a 20-year veteran eligible for retired pay, and the marriage and service overlap at least twenty years

A civilian spouse meeting the above-referenced requirements may qualify for full benefits. A 15-year overlap of military service and marriage qualifies the civilian spouse to receive one year of medical benefits following the divorce’s finalization.

When does your right to military housing end?

The military provides on-base housing to service members who want to live there with their dependents, including their spouse and kids. Service members have no authority to evict their dependents. If a domestic dispute occurs, the soldier’s commander generally orders them to reside in the dormitory or barracks. Like any other privilege, the military may take your right to live on-base once the court finalizes your divorce.

Guidance as you divorce your military spouse

While you may have little control over how things unfold as you and your service member spouse go your separate ways, you’ll want to keep in mind that divorce is a civilian matter. An attorney can work to help you negotiate a settlement in your divorce that offsets the on-base privileges that you stand to lose once the divorce is final.