One common question divorcing spouses often have for divorce lawyers is whether the termination of the marriage will affect family health insurance coverage. When a spouse faces the possibility of losing coverage especially for any involved children, health insurance issues can add tension to any divorce situation. Thankfully, there are laws in place to protect spouses and children so that in most cases, no one has to lose health insurance. With the help of experienced divorce attorneys, spouses can plan for this concern ahead of time so there is a seamless transition of health care coverage when the divorce is finalized.
Protecting Spouses and Children After Divorce
Divorce lawyers know that many people worry that they or their children will not have health coverage once they get divorced because the other spouse carries the health insurance. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws that protect divorced spouses and children from losing this essential coverage.
No employer can refuse to allow their employee to continue providing coverage for a spouse or family after a divorce, even if the employee is not the custodial parent. These laws can be upheld by court order if necessary, especially with regard to children. The Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO) states that this benefit can still be obtained through the non-custodial parent’s policy if that parent has such coverage. Spouses may also file for a temporary extension of health insurance from the former spouse’s employer through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), although there may be additional premiums for such coverage.
Part of the Divorce Settlement
When a divorce is being considered, divorce attorneys stress the importance of planning ahead for things like health insurance. Depending on who carries the insurance and what kind of coverage is needed, it is best to begin discussing this issue enough in advance to have a good plan in place once the divorce is granted. Child custody orders automatically include agreements on keeping children covered with appropriate health insurance; however, this does not extend to the spouse.
Many settlements include the stipulation that if one spouse provided health insurance to the other throughout the marriage, they continue to do so afterward as well, at least for some time. Divorce lawyers stress that this may be especially important for spouses who did not work and have relied on this coverage in the past. Still, it is important to address what happens when a providing ex-spouse decides to remarry and plans to transfer coverage to their new husband or wife.
Paying for Health Coverage
Based on what divorcing spouses can work out for themselves and their children, continuing health insurance may involve paying additional premiums. According to the QMCSO, coverage premiums for children are to be deducted directly from the parent’s pay and all reimbursements will go directly to that parent as well. Premiums for a spouse who is obtaining individual coverage through an ex-spouse’s plan are usually paid in the same way; however, through COBRA, the spouse obtaining this coverage may be responsible for any additional premiums or fees on their own.
Health insurance is an essential need for all individuals, especially children. When couples divorce, divorce attorneys suggest the topic of health coverage be discussed as part of the settlement plan. There are a number of ways that spouses and children can continue to receive health protection even after a divorce, provided this is promptly addressed. With the help of skilled divorce lawyers who know how to remedy such issues, families can work towards the most acceptable settlement that includes appropriate health insurance for everyone!
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526