Will you lose your health insurance in a divorce? It’s less thought of, but is still an important issue during a divorce. Many spouses depend on health insurance coverage from their spouse’s plan. Children may depend on the plan as well. Insurance coverage is often offered though a spouse’s employer, and once the divorce is finalized, an ex-spouse may no longer be covered. What should you do in this situation? Can you agree with your spouse to leave both of you on the plan? As you speak with your divorce lawyer, be sure to consider the impact of changing health insurance coverage post-divorce.
Why Health Insurance Matters in Divorce Proceedings
Many Americans depend on their health insurance coverage to pay for regular medical treatment. Insurance is especially important for people with medical conditions that require ongoing treatment or anyone with a serious illness or disease. Without insurance, the cost of treatment can be financially prohibitive.
A lot of couples handle health insurance by using one spouse’s employer-sponsored plan for both spouses and the kids. Unfortunately, health insurance companies largely prohibit policyholders from keeping a divorced spouse on their plan. This could lead to difficulties for the spouse who is no longer covered. Changing to a new insurance plan or provider can cause issues when costs rise, providers are no longer in network, or when preexisting conditions affect coverage. While you may qualify for COBRA coverage or be able to “special enroll” in your spouse’s plan, it can be extremely expensive. A better option could be to address the health insurance issue in your divorce settlement.
Negotiating for Health Insurance During Divorce
If you risk losing your health insurance due to divorce, ask your divorce lawyer about how you can negotiate for it during the divorce proceedings. For example, you may ask for your spouse to pay the costs associated with you getting new coverage. You may have more leverage if your spouse is the higher earner or if you agree to give up something else in exchange. Your lawyer is the best person to help you assess your chances of getting some of the costs covered.
Regardless of how your divorce negotiations go, keep in mind that you will likely be unable to stay on your spouse’s plan. You will need to locate new health insurance and cover its costs after the divorce. This may factor into your financial disclosures for alimony and child support. When you detail your budget, estimate your health care costs moving forward to see how much you can expect to pay. It could affect the support that you receive from your spouse.
Children’s Health Insurance After Divorce
You’re also probably wondering what happens to your children’s health insurance coverage after a divorce. Fortunately, your children could stay on your spouse’s insurance if they are covered already. Children can be covered by either parent’s health insurance policy. Importantly, North Carolina parents need to provide health and dental insurance coverage for their children, provided that the costs are reasonable.
You may wonder how you will pay for the insurance, especially if it’s under your spouse’s plan. Fortunately, you have a few options. You can negotiate with your spouse on how you will jointly pay for the insurance premiums. For example, one spouse could agree to cover all health insurance costs for the children, while the other spouse pays for daycare. Or you could split the health insurance costs between yourselves. Another option is agreeing to accept a lower support payment if you cover all the healthcare costs. It’s up to you, your spouse, and your lawyers as you negotiate during the divorce process. If your divorce is not amicable, a judge may need to decide this issue.
Any agreement that you and your spouse make about health insurance for you or the kids should be in writing. Be sure to include this information in your separation agreement, divorce settlement agreement, or other document memorializing the terms of your divorce. Your lawyer can prepare and review documents like these for you during the divorce.
New Direction Family Law Can Help
Worried about benefits after a divorce? If you want to end your marriage, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. Our North Carolina divorce attorneys are knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your rights during a divorce and after your divorce is finalized. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.