Many people across the United States are covered by employer coverage or their spouse’s group plan. For many employer plans, health insurance is provided to eligible dependents of the subscriber. The health insurance company will establish who meets the definition of an eligible dependent.

Once a Judgment of Divorce is entered, the non-subscribing spouse will no longer qualify as an eligible dependent and can’t remain on their former spouse’s policy. Children who are eligible can remain on the insurance policy post-divorce.

For individuals who do not have access to medical insurance through an employer, they will need to obtain an individual policy, this can be an expensive bill for many people.

Another possibility would be to accept COBRA benefits that allow you to remain on the ex-spouse’s policy; this option would only be temporary, and it would be costly.

If the dependent spouse can acquire their own health insurance through their employer, that would be the best option. A former spouse will not be required to automatically fund a new medical insurance policy regardless of the employment status of either party unless otherwise negotiated in the settlement agreement.

There are other mechanisms to specifically address the health insurance issue, such as:

  • Choosing legal separation over divorce.
    • This would not be considered a divorce; the parties could live separate and resolve certain issues. Proceeding with this option would mean the dependent spouse could remain on the subscriber’s health insurance plan.
    • There are pros and cons to this decision, talking with an attorney that has experience addressing family law issues is a good idea.
  • A complaint for limited divorce.
    • This would resolve their issues similar to a regular divorce, but neither could re-marry unless they applied to have this converted to a judgment of divorce.

There are an increasing number of insurance providers who are considering limited divorces in the same category as a judgment of divorce. You will need to check with your medical insurance provider before going with this option.

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