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Can I Continue Health Coverage If We Get Legally Separated?

July 1, 2018

When you’re going through a divorce or legal separation, you probably have a lot of questions swirling around your mind. From what you’re going to tell your friends and family to how you’re going to divide your assets, there is a lot to figure out when ending a marriage.

A divorce or legal separation is a major life change that you’ll want to be as prepared for as possible. But even with the right legal team and support system, some changes may get put on the back burner and forgotten about – leaving you unprepared when they finally show up.

One of the biggest changes you may be facing after a divorce or legal separation is how your insurance policies will change. If you’re on your spouse’s health insurance or your spouse is on your health insurance plan, you may be wondering how a separation will affect your coverage.

The truth of the matter is that it depends. Each situation will be unique, varying based on insurance policies, states, and the court. You’ll need to consider your particular situation and talk with your insurance provider to get any direct answers.

However, there are a few things you should expect. Let’s take a look at what changes you should be prepared for to ensure you’re covered after a legal separation.

Your Healthcare Coverage in a Legal Separation

Before talking about changes to your health insurance policy, it’s important to note that a legal separation and a divorce are vastly different. In fact, many couples are choosing to get a legal separation over a divorce because it often offers more options than a divorce.

But legally separating instead of divorcing isn’t a guaranteed way to keep your health insurance. A legal separation may still be viewed the same as a divorce when it comes to your insurance provider.

If you are going through a legal separation but you’re on your spouse’s insurance policy, you will likely be removed after a legal separation. If you agree that you should stay on the policy or plan, the court can demand that you stay on even after legal separation. The same applies if your spouse is on your health insurance plan.

However, you are not immediately cut off if your spouse does not agree to keep you on his or her plan. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, also known as COBRA, you can stay on your ex-spouse’s insurance plan for a limited amount of time.

COBRA is designed to help you stay insured while you find your own health insurance policy. Your coverage would not change, but you are given a predetermined amount of time before you lose coverage. The longest you can stay on COBRA insurance is 36 months.

Some insurance companies will view a legal separation entirely different than a divorce. In these circumstances, they will continue to provide coverage as long as you are only separated. However, it’s important to get this information before you go through with the process to avoid being blindsided by a loss of coverage.

How to Stay Covered After a Legal Separation

If you’re hoping to stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance after a legal separation, the first thing you will want to do is talk with your ex about the process. If you both agree that you should stay on the plan, the process will become much easier.

Next, you’ll want to contact your insurance provider to see how they handle legal separations. If they treat a legal separation the same as a divorce, you’ll know you’ll need to be prepared to get the court involved. If they will continue to cover you through a legal separation, you’re all set.

You’ll also want to talk with your insurance provider about what information they need regarding the divorce. Each insurance company will have their own set of requirements about when and how you alert them of a divorce or a separation. If you do not follow these rules, you may be facing insurance fraud charges, so it’s always important to talk about expectations beforehand.

If you need assistance from the court, you’ll want to be prepared to state your case. Working with your divorce attorney can help you appropriately explain why the court should demand the insurance provider to continue to cover you throughout the legal separation.

Finally, if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree or the court will not issue an order, you’ll want to be prepared to find your own insurance policy. While COBRA does give you some wiggle room to find a plan that will cover you, you’ll still want to find your own plan as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

When you’re going through a divorce, there are a lot of things you need to remember. However, you don’t want to allow your health insurance coverage to slip by unnoticed. If you don’t take the appropriate steps to guarantee your coverage after a legal separation, you may find yourself without any insurance at all.

Be sure to communicate your questions or concerns with your divorce attorney. An expert legal team can help you move through the complicated divorce process and guarantee you’re set and established after the legal separation is complete.

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