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Can you stay on your spouse's insurance during a divorce?

The financial ramifications of a divorce are often complicated. You and your spouse have to go through what can seem like an agonizingly slow process of breaking apart all your financial ties together. You need separate bank accounts, credit cards and eventually separate places to live.

But what about insurance? If you've been covered on your spouse's employer-based insurance, here's what you need to know:

Once the divorce is filed:

Generally speaking, a judge will issue temporary orders that are mostly designed to preserve the "status quo" in the marriage until the divorce is final. This will usually keep your spouse from making any changes to your health insurance until the divorce is final.

Most of the time, it's not easy to simply drop a spouse off of an insurance plan except during the annual "open season" period and when there has been a change in your circumstances. Until your divorce is final, that change hasn't occurred.

In fact, some long-term married spouses opt for legal separation instead of a divorce in order for one of the spouses to remain covered under the other's employer-based plan.

After the divorce:

You need to start making plans for when the divorce is final. Your options may include:

  • Obtaining your own health insurance through your employer
  • Buying private insurance through the state or federal market
  • Remaining on your spouse's insurance and paying the premiums yourself directly

Exactly what option you have will be specific to your circumstances and your needs. If you're unsure of what steps you need to take, talk to an experienced attorney today.

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