By Hope Tuber
It is not uncommon that one spouse, through their employment, provides for health insurance for the family. Now that you are getting divorced, one of the issues that must be considered is health insurance. If you have children, ensure that they have continued coverage after your divorce. This should be easy, and rarely have I seen this become an issue. During the pendency of your divorce the party who is insured through their spouse will also for the time being keep their insurance as automatic orders prevent any cancellation. Automatic orders are an order of the court that requires both parties to maintain the status quo until the divorce is finalized. In other words, neither party can cancel any policies already in place. The real issue is how is the person who was not providing health insurance to maintain coverage after the divorce.
First, you are entitled to stay on your spouse’s health insurance until the judgement of divorce is signed. This can be months after your matter is finally settled whether it is through a settlement or after a trial. This means that you have some time to look into obtaining a new plan. Second, you may be entitled to cobra insurance through your spouse’s policy after the divorce is finalized. Ensure there is a provision for this in any agreement you enter into. Third, you may ask the court to issue an order directing your spouse’s insurance policy to allow you to stay on the policy. If this happens, you will probably have to assist in the cost of said coverage however it may be worth it if you are unable to obtain a policy relatively quickly.
If none of these options are possible, there is one last thing you can speak to your spouse about. You can agree not to finalize your divorce for a specified period of time. You would enter into a separation agreement where all issues are resolved. That is to say, custody, child support, maintenance and equitable distribution have been addressed. The parties can then agree not to submit the final papers to effectuate your divorce for six month or a year or whatever time period you both can agree on. That will allow you to be covered while you are seeking a new plan yet have all issues surrounding your divorce settled. This will mean a conversation with your spouse to see if they are amendable to such an agreement. Clearly the drawback is that you are legally married and thus, you are unable to get remarried until the divorce is finalized.
Take your time and think about all your options. Discuss them with your soon to be ex-spouse and see how you both can benefit from ensuring all parties have access to a health insurance policy.