Can I Keep My Spouse on My Health Insurance After Divorce

Fran Majidi
November 3, 2020

It is not uncommon for a marriage to maintain medical insurance for the entire family through one spouse’s employer. Generally one spouse will have a cheaper plan option, or one of higher quality than what is offered to the other. What happens in regards to health insurance in the situation when a couple is getting a divorce?

In some situations there is a spouse that does not work or has employment that does not provide health insurance benefits. No matter the reason, health insurance must be dealt with as a part of any divorce.

Including Health Insurance Coverage in the Divorce Settlement

There are many reasons couples may want to consider their options for health insurance coverage post divorce, including medical care for children or home health care services for sick or older relatives.

In some cases, continued health insurance coverage can be included in a divorce settlement. For instance, if you have been receiving health insurance coverage through your spouse's plan, you may be able to require that you continue receiving coverage for you and your children in situations where you are the custodial parent.

In the opposite situation, where you are getting divorced and you are the one with the health plan that is covering the family, you can likely keep them on your plan. However, in these situations there will often be an additional premium charged by the insurance company.

Non-Traditional Divorce Options That Will Allow Continued Health Coverage

While a standard divorce will ultimately end up with one spouse being kicked off of their shared health insurance plan, there are a couple ways you could get around this. These options are similar to divorce but do have some drawbacks.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is not considered a divorce, but it does allow both parties to resolve certain issues and they can live separate lives. The benefit of choosing this option is that a dependent spouse could remain on the subscriber’s health insurance plan without any issues. This option is limiting compared to a divorce, but if neither party has plans to remarry and the health insurance is important, it is a good option to discuss with a divorce lawyer.

Limited Divorce

A limited divorce resolves many of the issues that would be dealt with during a traditional divorce, with the caveat that neither party can remarry until the limited divorce is converted to a judgment of divorce through the court. Some insurance providers now put limited divorces in the same category as a judgment of divorce, so you should check with your health insurance provider before pursuing this option.

No matter what option you go with, you will want to be prepared. Communicating with your former spouse, your attorney and the health insurance providers will make decisions easier for you.

Retaining Health Insurance Through COBRA

If you are getting divorced, you may be able to temporarily keep your spouse on your health coverage through a law known as COBRA. If your insurance is provided through an employer that has at least 20 employees, COBRA will let your spouse stay on that plan for up to 36 months after the divorce is finalized. They can stay on that plan unless they remarry or enroll in a new plan.

Even though COBRA lets your former spouse stay on your plan, they'll have to pay all of the monthly premiums on their own without any contribution from the employer. So it's important to learn what those premiums are so they can figure out their budget after getting divorced. For many people, needing to pay the premium out of pocket will ultimately mean they will seek out cheaper options, but if the health coverage is good enough it may be worth pursuing.

Author Bio: Casey Wagner is a copywriter for A Better Solution: NJ Divorce/Separation Mediation by Steven B. Menack, ESQ., APM. Steven B. Menack is a highly experienced, fully accredited NJ divorce mediator and divorce attorney that has helped thousands of couples find an amicable solution to divorce. Check out our New Jersey divorce mediation and legal separation guide for more information.

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