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Health Insurance and Divorce – FAQ’s

What happens with my health insurance when I get divorced?

Often times, if your health insurance policy is offered through your spouse’s work, it will be terminated at the time of divorce. There are options to keep the policy in the interim, and the new Affordable Care Act offers some more flexibility in options than there was before, but you will most likely need to find a different plan.

Here are some commonly asked questions about what will happen to your health insurance once you get a divorce:

What are my rights to continue health insurance on my spouse’s plan?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act allows you to obtain insurance on a continuous basis even if you have a pre-existing condition. After a divorce, you can continue under your ex’s coverage for 36 months. (You will have to pay the premiums, but it will be the same cost his/her employer gets it at.)

Can my insurance drop me if we are separated?
In some cases, a separation will be treated differently than a divorce, and you will be allowed to stay on your spouse’s policy. However, there are plans that treat separation and divorce the same way, so if your decision to get a divorce is hinging on this factor, do your research before deciding on one over the other.

Will I lose coverage after divorce?
You can continue insurance through a federal law called COBRA. This is usually not a permanent solution, however, and you should look for replacement coverage in the interim.

What if I am required to carry the insurance but I cannot afford it?
If you do not follow the court orders, you could be held in contempt. If you can no longer afford to pay the premiums or carry the insurance, you should consider filing for a modification action with the court.

Can I force my ex to assume health insurance responsibilities?
You can file a modification action if you have a reason that the court would accept in order to make your ex the insurance carrier.

Do I have to pay half the premiums if I am the primary parent?
It seems unlikely that the court would order you to pay this if you are the primary parent. If it has issued such an order, then the answer is yes.

If my child is not my ex’s biological child, can I request that he/she be kept on my spouse’s plan?
If your child is not the biological child of your spouse and your spouse did not adopt him or her, the court will not grant an order requiring your child to stay on your ex’s policy. You could pursue COBRA insurance through your ex’s policy.

How long is my ex required to carry insurance on our child?
In most states, it is until the child reaches the age of 18 or 21, depending on state law or how the decree is worded.

Can my ex be required to provide insurance to our grandchild?
Under normal circumstances, and the vast majority of the time – No.

What are my options if my ex dropped our child from his/her plan?
If the court ordered your spouse to keep your child on the plan, you should file for contempt and the court will enforce it.

What if my spouse wants to put the kids on his/her plan even though mine is better?
The court is not likely to grant a modification that does not serve the best interests of the child. If your plan is better, you will most likely be allowed to keep the kids on your insurance.

Should I switch the obligation from my ex to my current spouse?
You can, but it is not always wise to do so. If your spouse should lose his/her job and no longer have coverage, the best back-up plan is to have your children on their other parents plan.

Can health insurance be covered as part of alimony?
This is definitely an option – talk to your attorney about your situation.

Can my spouse drop me from his/her insurance before the divorce is final?
It depends on the state/employer. To be sure, you should call the HR department of his/her company and ask about their policies regarding this situation. If you are not allowed to stay on the policy for the duration of the divorce, you can apply for COBRA.

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