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Can My Insurance Coverage be Discontinued During a Separation?

A common concern is whether someone can be dropped from a spouse’s health insurance plan during the separation phase of a divorce. Typically, a spouse cannot have you dropped from an insurance policy until the divorce has been finalized, but there are exceptions to this general rule. There are a number of factors that will ultimately determine whether your insurance coverage will be maintained during your separation.

Health Insurance Provider and Policy

The first thing that needs to be considered is the health insurance provider and the nature of the health insurance. Every health insurance provider has adopted policies and rules that determine how it deals with spouses during legal separations. Nevertheless, the insurance company may not be able to drop you from the policy because you are officially listed on the plan. Even though your spouse is paying the premiums and the divorce is not final, there’s a good chance that your health coverage will be maintained during the separation.

Your spouse may be required to provide proof that the divorce is final before health insurance coverage can be discontinued. It should be noted, however, that certain health insurance providers treat separations just like a finalized divorce. This means that you can lose your health insurance coverage if your spouse informs the health insurance company about the separation. You may have to go to court to prevent your spouse from dropping your insurance coverage.

The Court That Handles Your Divorce

The court that handles your divorce proceeding may also play a role in determining whether you can be dropped from your spouse’s health insurance plan. The court can issue a temporary order requiring your spouse to maintain your health insurance coverage until the divorce is finalized. In the event that your spouse violates the temporary court order and drops your health coverage, the court can also order your spouse to immediately resume your insurance coverage. Depending on the applicable laws in your state, the court may also order your spouse to reimburse you for any out-of-pocket medical expenses that were incurred during the lapse of your insurance coverage.

Most states have enacted what’s known as a Doctrine of Necessaries. This means that spouses are required to pay the medical bills of their spouse and minor children during a separation. A divorce litigant can be held financially responsible for the medical bills of a spouse even if they weren’t present and didn’t sign any documents prior to the provision of medical care.

A spouse can also be held financially responsible for the medical expenses of minor children, including emergency room visits, even without prior knowledge or consent. The doctrine of necessaries, sometimes referred to as the doctrine of necessities, states that parents are liable for the necessary support of their minor children. Many states have expanded the doctrine to include mutual financial responsibility for the purpose of meeting the necessary support of an estranged spouse.

Even creditors have the right to collect a debt from spouses and parents that are subject to the doctrine of necessaries. Therefore, courts in states that have enacted a doctrine of necessities will often insist that litigants in a divorce suit maintain health insurance coverage for their spouse during the separation.

After the Divorce is Final

The status of health insurance coverage for a spouse after the divorce is declared final will depend on the details of the court ruling. The court may rule that your spouse is obligated to maintain coverage under an existing health insurance plan or pay a prescribed amount of alimony each month to cover the cost of health insurance premiums. A specified monthly allotment for health insurance coverage may be included in any court approved alimony payments.

The court is more likely to order your spouse to make prescribed alimony payments so that you can purchase a suitable health insurance plan. This is often the only available option since many health insurance companies do not allow ex-spouses to remain eligible for benefits. It’s usually best to have an experienced family law attorney examine the provisions of an existing health insurance plan and petition the court to protect your health coverage and financial security.

The separation phase of a divorce can be difficult and challenging. You don’t want to wake up one day and learn that your insurance coverage has been discontinued. It just makes sense to rely on an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the confusing legal process. You’ll know what to expect during every phase of the divorce process. Family law attorneys understand the divorce laws and the extent of spousal liability where you live. Your divorce lawyer will fight to protect your legal rights and secure the health insurance coverage and spousal support that you deserve.