Dependent health insurance after a separation or divorce

After a separation or divorce, handling health insurance for dependents can be confusing. Which parent should carry the health insurance? What about coverage for the dependent spouse?

Here are a few of the most important things to consider regarding dependent healthcare coverage after separation or divorce.

Never take action without consulting an attorney

It can be tempting to do things like remove dependents, especially the spouse, from a policy when divorce proceedings begin. However, any action taken in a divorce can have legal consequences. Therefore, you should not take any action without first consulting a lawyer who can explain how such an action might impact you legally.

Children are required to have health insurance

Legally, children must have health insurance coverage. This is required by the federal government, regardless of the state-specific rules. In fact, you must present proof at tax time that all dependent children are covered.

Who is responsible is often determined by custody

In many cases, the non-custodial parent will be required to carry the health insurance coverage for dependent children as part of the child support package. Depending on the nature of the custody agreement, the custodial parent may still need to pay a percentage of the costs.

If both parents share custody equally, they may be asked to both carry insurance on the dependent children. Additionally, parents who are going through an amicable divorce should have room to compromise and come up with an arrangement that works for their family.

Coverage for the dependent spouse

During separation, it is likely that the dependent spouse will be able to remain on their former-partner’s plan. However, once a divorce is finalized, the dependent spouse will need to already have a plan ready and active so there is no gap in coverage. In some cases, alimony may dictate that the former-spouse continue to pay for, or contribute, towards a policy, but this is not a guarantee. In many cases, buying a plan through COBRA can be a short-term solution after a divorce.

If you have spoken with an attorney and need to take out a policy to protect yourself after divorce, contact an experienced insurance broker.