Do You Have to Keep Your Spouse on Your Health Insurance After Divorce?

Do you have to keep Your Spouse on your Health Insurance After Divorce?

With all the hoopla about healthcare in the news, it seemed timely to discuss this issue and question about whether you still have to keep your spouse on your health insurance after divorce.

I keep getting asked whether a spouse has to keep a former spouse on his/her health insurance after a divorce. I think the answer is still “no.”
Granted this post was originally published in 2008, well before Obamacare and Trumpcare and all this other craziness surrounding health care in America. But I think the rules for what happens after a divorce are still pretty much set in stone. You don’t normally have to keep your spouse on your health insurance after your divorce. Except under extenuating circumstances where a court could order one spouse to continue to cover the other spouse or pay for the other spouse’s health care costs (this would probably be after a lengthy marriage where one was the home-maker for the entire marriage and his/her health is severely impaired). Normally, after a divorce – in New York State anyway- a spouse does not have to cover the other spouse. Actually, my hunch is that it is the same in the rest of the country. You don’t have to cover your spouse with health insurance after a divorce.

That is not to say that two people on their own could not come to their own agreement. Some employers’ health care plans do allow divorced spouses to continue to cover the other spouse and so you could totally volunteer to keep your spouse on your health insurance. But this is rare that someone would do that because it is so prohibitively expensive for most people.

In the past, and I believe this trend continues these days – but correct me if I am wrong –  the court requires each party to sign a stipulation, pursuant to Domestic Relations Law section 177 stating that they “understand that upon entrance of the divorce agreement, I will no longer be allowed to receive health coverage under my former spouse’s plan…”

Also in the past and I believe this is still true today, individuals would have the option to utilize the COBRA option pursuant to Federal Law, but this would be an out of pocket expense for the spouse who is losing coverage. And there is a time limit that the spouse who is losing coverage would have in order to take advantage of the COBRA option.

Check with your divorce attorney in the state where you are to see what your options are these days. Especially with all the chaos surrounding this issue of healthcare. Because it is quite possible that the rules have changed and that indeed you do have to keep your spouse on your health insurance after divorce. Unlikely, but possible.

 

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