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Tricare Help: No paternity test for parents planning to wed

May. 2, 2013 - 04:25PM   |  
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Q. I am an active-duty Marine. My fiancée just told me she is pregnant, and we’re planning to get married in a few months, after I complete my training but before the baby is born. My staff sergeant told me that because my fiancée got pregnant before we were married, Tricare will require a paternity test, even if we get married before the baby is born. Is that true?

A. Your staff sergeant is incorrect. Once you marry your fiancée, the baby’s

paternity is irrelevant for the purposes

of Tricare, because Tricare covers both

biological children and stepchildren of active-duty service members.

Your fiancée becomes fully eligible for Tricare on the day you are married. In order for her to use Tricare benefits,

however, she must be properly registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, the Defense Department’s eligibility portal for Tricare. You can do this at the ID Card/DEERS office

of any military installation, or by calling the main DEERS support office at


Once properly registered, your fiancée will be fully covered for all maternity care as well as the birth of the baby. Once the baby is born, he or she is also fully covered by Tricare and can use the benefits once properly registered in DEERS.

Q. I was wondering about the 20/20/20 rule.

I served a total of 31 years, but only 15 on active duty, and only 14 while married to my wife. If I die,

will she get to keep Tricare? What about my

11-year-old son?

A. The 20/20/20 rule states that a former spouse may retain Tricare eligibility after divorce if the service member served at least 20 years, the marriage lasted at least 20 years, and the marriage and the military service overlapped by at least 20 years. As you note, your wife would not meet the 20/20/20 rule for continued Tricare eligibility if you were to divorce, because your marriage and your service did not overlap long enough.

But the 20/20/20 rule is irrelevant as long as you stay married. If you were to die and you and your wife were married, she would remain eligible for continued Tricare coverage as a retiree survivor.

However, there’s a caveat: Her Tricare eligibility would remain intact as a survivor only as long as she did not remarry. If she remarried, she would lose Tricare eligibility and that could not be restored even if her subsequent marriage ended.

Your son is eligible for Tricare until age 21, or age 23 if he is a full-time college student. After that, he could enroll in a relatively new program called Tricare Young Adult, which requires payment of a monthly premium. Eligibility under that program ends at age 26.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service,

6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or In email, include the word “Tricare” in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice anytime at

Answers by RallyPoint

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