A divorce decree can change any health insurance plan shared by the spouses. Once divorce is final, a dependent spouse could lose their benefits and may need to look for other coverage options. However, while the divorce proceedings are still ongoing, the law protects either spouse from losing their health insurance benefits. Here’s how it works.
Health Insurance During a Pending Divorce
After one spouse serves divorce papers but before divorce is final, health insurance coverage should continue normally for both spouses. During this period, there are rules called Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs), which prohibit either spouse from doing certain things while their divorce is pending. Among these prohibitions are changing, canceling, or cashing out on any insurance policy.
If one spouse tries to end coverage for their dependent spouse while divorce is pending, the court may make the violating spouse liable for the uninsured medical costs incurred by the dependent spouse.
On the other hand, if there is good reason to remove the dependent spouse from a health insurance policy while divorce is pending, the insured spouse may petition the court for permission. If the court grants an order permitting this, the insured spouse may remove the dependent spouse from their health coverage without getting into legal trouble.
Health Insurance After Divorce is Final
After divorce is finalized, the two parties are no longer legally related, and thus, the dependent ex-spouse can no longer be included in their ex’s health insurance policy.
If you are an ex-spouse who has been removed as a dependent, these are other health insurance options to consider:
- Health insurance at your own job. You can likely sign up for health insurance outside of the open enrollment period, because a divorce qualifies as a life-changing event.
- COBRA coverage. Under the US Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), you may be able to continue your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance for up to 36 months. You’ll need to notify the administrator of the insurance plan within 60 days of your divorce. One major catch with COBRA is that most employers won’t subsidize coverage, so you may have to pay the full premium.
- Private health insurance. Most private health insurance plans are expensive, but if you have to go with this option, it can be included in the determination and calculation of spousal support. The court won’t order your former spouse to pay for your health insurance post-divorce, but this will be a factor in how much alimony you could receive. Consult with a competent divorce attorney to maximize your alimony claim.
Children’s Health Insurance After Divorce
Divorcing parents can include their children’s health insurance in the child support agreement. The Virginia Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, which is the main document to calculate child support, specifically includes health care coverage in the computation.
Alternatively, if a parent is eligible for COBRA coverage, additional coverage may be available for children under their care.
Consult an Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorney
If you have concerns about your or your children’s insurance after divorce, don’t hesitate to get the advice of a trusted Family Law attorney. Our lawyers at Holcomb Law, P.C. have earned the trust of many individuals and families facing sensitive divorce matters. We can help you resolve your divorce issues with favorable results.
Your consultation with us is confidential. Call (757) 656-1000 or send us an email.