If your spouse has health insurance through your employer and you are now getting a divorce, he or she will no longer be covered once it is finalized. Generally, when it comes to employer health insurance plans, only eligible dependents are covered. While your children will continue to receive coverage, your ex-spouse will likely not meet the requirements. That said, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers to keep providing health insurance for an employee’s ex-spouse for up to 36 months after a divorce.
If COBRA applies to your situation, a judge will factor it into your spousal support. So, it may be in your best interest to consider providing health support during and for a limited time after the divorce.
Health Insurance and the Divorce Process
Upon filing or receiving service of the Summons for Dissolution of Marriage (form FL-110), standard family law restraining orders take effect (also called “ATROs” or “Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders”), which restrain you from changing or canceling any of the beneficiaries for any insurance coverage, including life, health, automobile, disability, or that which is held for the benefit of either party or your minor children. As such, you cannot remove your spouse from your health insurance while your divorce is pending. You will probably face legal challenges if you remove your spouse from your health insurance plan without a court order. As much as you may want to disconnect yourself from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you do not want to risk jeopardizing your case by making an impulsive decision. Your earnings, your portion of the community property, and your separate property may be liable for 100% of the uninsured medical costs incurred by your spouse if you unilaterally changed your spouse's insurance without a court order permitting you to do so.
If you believe your spouse should be removed from your health insurance during divorce, you must petition the court for permission first. Depending on the circumstances, your request may be granted. Alternatively, if your spouse obtained his or her own insurance, you should be sure to obtain a written and signed Stipulation that can be submitted to the Court to be approved as a Court Order so you can protect yourself in the event of a major illness or accident. Just be sure not to remove your spouse from your health insurance while in divorce proceedings unless you have a court order that permits you to do so.
In some cases, one party may ask the other to stay on the insured spouse’s plan, or the spouse may even want to keep their ex-spouse on his/her employer’s insurance plan. While staying on an ex-spouse’s low-cost or no-cost plan is desirous, this option is often challenging, especially since health insurance companies do not permit divorced spouses to remain on a health insurance policy. The insurance company may cancel the insured spouse’s coverage or allege insurance fraud if they were not notified of the divorce. When one spouse desperately needs to remain on insurance, a legal separation may be a better alternative than a divorce. A divorce constitutes a “life event” to enable you to get insurance outside of an open enrollment period, as long as you obtain insurance immediately after your Entry of Judgment. If you believe health insurance will become a major issue in your divorce, consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Reach Out to Our Knowledgeable Divorce Attorneys for Knowledgeable Advice Today!
If you are getting a divorce and have concerns about health insurance during and after the process, you must retain skilled legal guidance. At Kraft Miles, A Law Corporation, our family law team has the experience and insight to guide you through this process and help you achieve the desired results. We understand that you want to move forward and unlink your life from your spouse, and we will do what we can to ensure you can achieve your goals.