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Military Dependent ID Card and Divorce

Tuesday, 07 April 2015

With so many military installations in and around the area, Colorado Springs divorce attorneys are asked often about how eligibility for a military dependent ID card is affected by divorce. As you may know if you or a family member has ever served in the military, those who serve our country in the armed forces are entitled to a number of privileges that are not available to the public at large.

The right to enjoy some of the privileges earned for their service is shared by the dependents of the service members who are issued their own military dependent ID card. With this ID card, military dependents too can make use of various the facilities and privileges reserved for those who sacrifice so much of their lives in service to our country. I should also note here that National Guard and Reserve member dependent’s benefits might vary depending on whether or not the service member is on active duty.

Eligibility Criteria

The Department of Defense issues a military ID card to each service member which they can then use to prove their eligibility status when availing themselves of these privileges, which includes things like entering military bases, shopping at the base commissaries, access to medical treatment, child care and other services offered exclusively to service members. The term “legal dependent: applies to service member’s children below the age of 21 years, children between 21 and 23 who are attending an approved educational institution and dependent children the age of 21 who for reasons of disability are unable to support themselves financially. In the case of dependent children above the age of 21, the Defense Department will ask for documentation of the dependent’s condition that prevents them from providing for themselves as adults. In the case of military dependents, the term “dependent children” means the biological, step and adopted children of military members. 

Military dependent ID cards are also issued to spouses of service members. This benefit extends to service members who are legally married to their same-sex partner. In case of death of the service member, and as long as they don't remarry, widowed spouses retain their eligibility for a military dependent ID. 

If you need more information about eligibility criteria or the forms and documentation that you may be required to provide, visit your military branch’s personnel office or access more information on military dependent ID

Issue and Renewal of the ID card

The Department of Defense uses a system referred to as the Real Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) to issue ID Cards. If you are not sure where to go to access RAPIDS, visit this site to find the office nearest your location. Family members and eligible dependents are required to report to a RAPIDS ID Card issuing site in order to be issued the appropriate ID card. Military dependents must bring with them and present the necessary information for verification of eligibility. The types of relevant documents that must accompany an application for military dependent ID include such as things as marriage certificates, birth certificates and adoption papers that prove eligibility based on the applicant’s relationship to the service member, referred to for this purpose as the “sponsor”.  

Military dependent IDs are valid for 4 years. Once the military dependent ID card expires it must be surrendered by the dependent, who must then reapply for a new card. The military dependent ID card must also be surrendered when the cardholder has replaced it with a new one because the original card was lost or stolen. The Department of Defense also requires that the military dependent ID card be surrendered if the military dependent becomes ineligible at any time before their currently issued ID card expires. 

Status of Military Dependent ID Card after divorce

This can get slightly complex. To qualify after divorce for continued benefits, a former spouse must show that the service member served a minimum of 20 years of creditable service, that the marriage lasted 20 or more years and that the years the couple were married overlapped the period of service by at least 20 years. Known as a 20/20/20 former spouse, those who qualify are entitled to full commissary, exchange and health care benefits. Former spouses who do not meet these requirements lose their commissary and exchange privileges once the divorce is final. Technically, if the marriage has lasted for over 20 years and if the military member has more than 20 years of service, the spouse retains eligibility for an ID card of his or her own. In special cases, spouses are eligible for medical benefits for up to a year after divorce as well.

However, in many cases there are children who live with the former spouse who are eligible for the ID card. In this case, their military dependent ID card can be used to access the benefits and services the even if the former spouse is ineligible. 

If you are considering a divorce and are a member or dependent of a military service member, you should know that the military considers divorce a civil matter that is under the jurisdiction of the courts of the states in which the divorce occurs. Although they do not get involved, the military does have certain policies relating to dependents that must be followed by state courts. Former military spouses are covered under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which offers a number of protections that you should be aware of. That’s why it makes sense to retain a divorce lawyer who understands the special issues involved in a military divorce rather than rely on an inexperienced attorney who may not have the knowledge to help you navigate the system and come out with every military benefit that you can legally retain. 


The best way to make absolutely sure that your rights are maintained in the case of a military divorce is to consult with a divorce attorney with experience in military divorce, like the attorneys at Marrison Family Law. Please contact us if you need assistance with your military divorce in Colorado. In case your former spouse attempts to take your military dependent ID card by force, he or she may be guilty of larceny under the relevant articles and you should not hesitate to call us for a consultation. 

Patricia Marrison is a Family Law attorney in Colorado Springs, CO. and the owner of the Marrison Law Firm, Colorado Springs largest Family Law practice.  The Marrison Law Firm is devoted to assisting with the difficulties of the breakup of relationships, be it common law marriage, a non-marriage with children, or dissolution with or without children. We attempt to serve the entire spectrum of relationships, from those couples with the simplest, uncontested dissolution to the highly conflicted relationship involving allegations of domestic abuse.

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