How long can I stay on my spouse’s health insurance?

The short answer is until the time the divorce is finalized. Starting the collaborative process, separation or the filing of the divorce does not affect insurance coverage. Your spouse should maintain the family’s insurance coverage throughout the divorce process, unless otherwise agreed. If you are concerned that your spouse may remove you from the insurance policy, let your attorney know immediately and steps can be taken to prevent this from happening.

Once the judgment of divorce has been entered, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to remain on your spouse’s policy. However, it is important to check the specific policy to make sure. You will also want to check with your employer (if you have one) to discuss coverage options through your work.
You may be able to continue your current health insurance coverage after the divorce is final pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). COBRA applies to most employer based health plans with greater than 20 employees. COBRA will allow you to maintain the same policy and coverage as you enjoyed prior to the divorce, regardless of pre-existing conditions, for up to 36 months. Unless specified otherwise in the judgment of divorce, you will be responsible to cover the cost of this plan.

The cost of coverage under COBRA and individual insurance plans can be quite expensive. You should investigate the premiums prior to finalizing your divorce so that this cost can be taken into account during settlement negotiations.

If maintaining health insurance coverage is a big concern for you, you and your attorney may want to explore the option of proceeding with a separate maintenance action as opposed to filing for divorce. Some insurance policies allow continued coverage for a spouse after the finalization of a separate maintenance case. The specific insurance policy should be examined to ensure that you will in fact be able to remain on the policy.
The bottom line here is to do your homework and plan early so that you do not have a lapse in health insurance coverage and are able to afford coverage upon finalization of your divorce

Meghan E Lipford, J.D.

Meghan E Lipford is a collaborative attorney with Berecz and Associates PLC. She can be reached at 616.667.2217 and more information is available at www.FamilyResolutions.us.