How Does Divorce Affect Health Insurance?

Going through a divorce is stressful enough without having to have the answers to so many “what now” types of questions. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most common questions those facing an upcoming divorce have regarding the future of their healthcare.

Common Questions Regarding Divorce and Health Insurance

I am on my spouse’s health insurance plan. How will my (and my children’s) health insurance be affected after the divorce?

No matter who held the health insurance plan, after the divorce is finalized, the spouse on the other’s insurance will be dropped. Most states decree that the account holder has to keep the other spouse on their insurance until the divorce is finalized. If your spouse tries to take you (and/or your children) off the plan before the divorce is finalized, they are legally required to put you back on immediately. Know your rights and make sure to always check with your attorney as laws change periodically.

Is there any insurance assistance in the time after my divorce and before I can get my own insurance?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees and/or dependents (spouse and children) who may be losing their health benefits from a divorce to be able to continue coverage. You must apply for the benefits to receive them. Benefits can last up to 18, 29 or 36 months in certain states. Most Tennessee COBRA plans provide for 36 months, but make sure to check with your attorney as laws are occasionally amended.

Be aware that COBRA premiums can be quite high, so you always have the option of looking for other insurance plans that better fit your budget. And keep in mind that to qualify for COBRA, your ex-spouse’s employer must have 20+ employees — if not, a mini-COBRA plan can be started.

What are my options if I don’t qualify for COBRA or after my COBRA plan is over?

If the COBRA plan is too pricey or you aren’t eligible, don’t worry, there are still plenty of other options out there for any type of income bracket. Here are some options you can choose from:

  • Employer-sponsored plans
  • Affordable Care Act plans (Obamacare)
  • Private/individual health insurance
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Tricare (military program)

How long after I lose my spouse’s insurance do I have to figure out my new health plan?

After the divorce is finalized, you will qualify for a SEP (Special Enrollment Period) which allows you 60 days to shop around for whatever plan will work best. You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll any time if you’ve had certain life events, including losing health coverage (from a divorce), moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. Make sure to take advantage of the SEP so you don’t have to wait for open enrollment and go uncovered for a portion of the year.

My spouse and I are only legally separated. Is my health insurance in jeopardy of being dropped?

While some states don’t count legal separation in the same light as divorce, there are states that treat legal separation the same as divorce. The State of Tennessee does not recognize legal separation the same as divorce in this regard, and health insurance can not be dropped until a divorce is finalized.

Does my pregnancy affect my divorce?

The laws regarding divorce and pregnancy vary from state to state. In some states, while you can file for divorce, it is prohibited to finalize it while pregnant. It’s not a crime, but the court won’t finalize the divorce until after the child is born. In states like Louisiana, a pregnancy will not interfere with divorce proceedings, but in other states like Texas, the court will halt the finalization until after the baby is born.

In some states, the courts may order the spouse to help pay for the maternity costs until the child is born. After the birth, the healthcare can be added into the custody and child support costs. If there are any disagreements about who is responsible for healthcare during the pregnancy, it is best to consult a divorce lawyer for more detailed help.

How long does my ex-spouse have to pay for our child’s health coverage after our divorce?

Again, laws vary state by state, but typically your child’s health insurance will be covered until they turn 18 or 21. Your divorce stipulations can grant even longer coverage as well.

Divorce is a life-changing event and you need to make sure you are prepared for what comes after. No matter if it’s your children’s health or your own, you need to make sure you are getting everything you deserve with respect and compassion. Hiring an experienced attorney who will put your needs first is essential in a smooth divorce transition.

Choose A Tennessee Divorce Attorney You Can Trust

Divorces get messy. You need an experienced divorce attorney who is an expert in family law—someone who will help you set realistic goals—someone that you trust.

Whether you’re filing for divorce or have been served divorce papers, you may feel like your world has come crashing down around you. It’s a very vulnerable and confusing place to be in, which is why you need the best legal counsel possible to navigate all the ins and outs of divorce law.

Attorney Hunter Fowler has provided legal services to many individuals in your precise situation and will work with you through every detail of your divorce proceedings to ensure the final outcome is what you want for yourself and your family. Contact Hunter Fowler today to get the legal counsel you deserve.