Health Insurance and Divorce – FAQs

Health Insurance and Divorce – FAQs

Health Insurance and Divorce – FAQs


Many divorcing spouses understand that divorce will impact nearly every aspect of their lives. The marital home, financial accounts, visitation with the kids, vehicles, and retirement funds are commonly considered, but what about health insurance? 

Health insurance is likely not one of the first things you think of in this scenario, but it should be considered during a divorce. 

Why Does Health Insurance Matter in a Divorce?

If you cover your health insurance, your spouse covers theirs, and you have no children, health insurance may not matter much in your divorce. However, if the other person’s insurance policy covers you or your spouse, a determination will need to be made about continued coverage following a divorce. 

Health insurance can be a significant issue during a divorce for several reasons:

  1. Cost: Health insurance can be expensive, and coverage for one person may not be affordable for both parties after a divorce.
  2. Coverage: A spouse may have been covered under their partner’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan, but after a divorce, they may no longer be eligible for that coverage.
  3. Pre-existing conditions: A spouse with pre-existing health conditions may be concerned about their ability to obtain new coverage or the cost of coverage on the individual market.
  4. Dependent coverage: When a divorce happens, one of the spouses might have dependent coverage, which will not be covered anymore.
  5. Retirement benefit: Some employers provide health insurance as part of a retirement package. A divorce settlement may have to consider the future cost of health insurance for the ex-spouse.

It is important to consider the cost and coverage of health insurance when negotiating a divorce settlement and to consult with a financial advisor to understand the options and potential consequences.

My Spouse’s Health Insurance Plan Covers Me; Will I Lose Coverage?

Once divorced, you will not be considered a dependent for health insurance. Your ex-spouse will not be able to continue listing you as such on their insurance plan. 

In California, the court can order one spouse to provide health insurance coverage to the other as part of a divorce settlement. This is known as a “COBRA continuation” or “COBRA alternative” order.

When a divorce is finalized, the spouse covered under the other spouse’s health insurance plan will lose coverage as a dependent unless the court orders otherwise. COBRA continuation allows the covered spouse to continue their coverage under their spouse’s plan for a limited time, typically 36 months.

However, the covered spouse will be responsible for paying the total cost of the coverage, including the portion that the employer used to pay.

Alternatively, a COBRA alternative order requires the spouse providing the health insurance coverage to pay for a policy for the other spouse, typically for a limited period, for example, until the other spouse gets new coverage.

It is essential to review the terms of your spouse’s health insurance plan and consult with a lawyer or financial advisor to understand the options and potential consequences of health insurance coverage during and after a divorce in California.

What happens to health insurance after legal separation?

In California, a legal separation does not affect either party’s continuation of health insurance coverage. Both parties are still considered legally married, and as such, they are still entitled to the same benefits they were entitled to before the separation. This includes the right to continue to be covered under the other party’s health insurance plan as long as the plan allows it. However, the parties can agree to divide the cost of health insurance, if any, and that agreement can be enforceable through the court.

What will happen to our kids’ health insurance?

A divorce does not typically trigger an automatic cancellation of a couple’s children’s insurance. If you divorce in California, the court may order one parent to provide health insurance coverage for the children as part of a child support order. This typically happens if one parent has access to employer-sponsored health insurance that can cover the children at a reasonable cost. The parent ordered to provide health insurance coverage for the children is responsible for paying the insurance cost. The other parent is responsible for paying their share of the cost as part of the child support order.

Without a court order, the parents can agree on how to provide health insurance coverage for the children, and that agreement can be included in the divorce settlement.

It is important to note that in California, both parents are still legally responsible for supporting the children, including their health care needs, regardless of whether the parents are divorced.

How We Can Help

Guideway is an experienced, neutral third party that guides divorcing couples through the issues that have stalled their divorce, helping them reach a mutually acceptable resolution. There’s no judge, no winning or losing. Instead, our Guided Divorce is based on the principles of negotiation, open-mindedness, and compromise.

If you have questions about what will happen to your health insurance after your divorce or are looking for guidance, reach out to Guideway Legal today