Divorce and Health Insurance - You and Your Children / by Cassandra Hearn

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Divorce is a time of change for you and your family.  You will need to make many important decisions about the next step of your life, including where you will live, how the children will have their time divided, and what adjustments you will need to make to adapt to your new life as a single person.  Financial considerations are also among some of the most important adjustments, including health insurance.  Health insurance can be a major financial consideration for many families, and it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to health insurance and your divorce.

During a divorce, there is an automatic restraining order that comes into place that prevents you or your spouse from making certain major changes, including to health insurance coverage.  This means that neither you nor your spouse can remove or reduce health insurance coverage for each other or the children without specific leave from the court.  After the divorce is over, however, it is likely that you will not be able to maintain employer-sponsored health insurance for your spouse on a permanent basis.  There is a method, however, that you can maintain temporary health insurance for your spouse even after the divorce is finalized; the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly called “COBRA” allows you to continue health insurance under an employer’s plan even after you or your spouse is no longer eligible for coverage by virtue of the divorce.  After the divorce, the spouse who is no longer by the policy will be responsible for all of the cost of his or her own insurance policy without the benefit of the portion that was previously subsidized by the former-spouse’s employer.  There are specific notice provisions for COBRA, so if you are providing health insurance coverage for your spouse through your employer, you need to make sure you understand what notice and paperwork you must provide to your spouse concerning eligibility for COBRA coverage.

The law is different, however, for your children.  Unlike your former spouse, your children are not rendered ineligible for coverage under your employer’s health plan simply because of the divorce.  The California child support guidelines provide that the parent who continues to pay the health insurance premiums for the child will get credit for that payment accounted for in the child support amount.

Health insurance is just one important factor in your divorce.  Contact us today and we will talk to you about your rights and responsibilities