How Health Insurance is Handled During Divorce
What Happens to Health Insurance when You get Divorced in New Jersey?
According to New Jersey law, one spouse cannot remove health insurance coverage during the divorce process; however, things can change once the divorce is final.
With divorce comes many changes. Filing for divorce is a stressful and sometimes confusing process that infrequently is cut and dried. Health insurance and divorce, however, is straightforward: once your divorce is granted, the dependent spouse loses their health insurance coverage and is required to get their own coverage.
You can stay on your spouse’s insurance while the divorce is in process. This will give you some time to sit with your attorney and seek other options. If there are any children in the marriage, they will not lose their coverage, as they are dependents of both spouses.
When will Insurance Coverage Change for Divorcing Spouses in NJ?
Once a Summons for Dissolution of Marriage is filed, you cannot remove your spouse from any insurance policies while the case is still pending. When divorce proceedings begin, your lawyer will draw up a certification of insurance coverage and it includes automobile, health, life, and homeowner’s insurance. Furthermore, an ATRO (Automatic Temporary Restraining Order) is used to prevent the insurance holder from taking anyone off of their policies. If you believe that you should be allowed to remove your spouse, you must ask the court first and provide reasons for your request. Under no circumstances should you remove your spouse without the authorization of the court. Barring any unusual exceptions, the dependent spouse will be removed from any and all insurance policies.
What are my Insurance Options if I Lose My Coverage due to Divorce?
If the dependent spouse is working and their employer offers health insurance, this is a great idea because the cost is absorbed by your employer at least partially. Services can include indemnity plans which is also called fee-for-service. The good news is that you can choose your health provider. The bad news is that you must pay a deductible before your insurer starts to pay. You could opt for service provider plans which limit the doctors or health facilities you can use but pay a large percentage of the costs. A preferred provider has a contract with your insurance company and as long as you use their services, you will pay less. Health maintenance is a fairly new kind of coverage that focuses on prevention and screening rather than just sick care.
If individual medical insurance is something that interests you, there are several providers. The advantage is that you can shop around for the coverage you want. The disadvantage is that paying the cost for the premium lies squarely on your shoulders. There is another option called COBRA.
What is COBRA, and How Does It Work?
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health benefits allow you to stay on your spouse’s policy for 36 months even while you are no longer married, but it is expensive as you are required to pay 100% of the premiums. Failure to pay those premiums could leave you without any coverage. COBRA coverage must be requested by you through your spouse’s employer within 60 days of your divorce becoming final.
COBRA works for health plans that are sponsored by state and local governments or larger companies. If you choose to use COBRA, you should contact the health insurance provider that you are divorced and would like to sign up for the program. Since there are higher costs involved, they may be included as part of your divorce settlement, something you should discuss with your attorney.
Is there any other way to stay on my spouse’s health insurance?
Bed and Board divorce is the most drastic option for divorcing couples; this limited divorce grants the parties economical autonomy, but they are legally married. The assets will be divided, the debts determined, support awards will be decided just as in any regular divorce. The main difference is that neither spouse can remarry until a full divorce is completed. It can be considered a step between separation and divorce. Couples use this to give the other spouse the time they need to find health insurance that they can afford, using their spouse’s insurance as a temporary solution. As long as the parties are able to be civil around one another, this is an idea that might work.
The downside to a divorce of this nature is the inability to get married to someone else. When there is a long marriage, a second marriage is less likely, but when a couple has been married briefly, they may find themselves ready to remarry some time down the road. Also, at any point, a spouse can file for an absolute divorce, thus separating all legal ties between the two parties. The dependent spouse would then be obligated to choose a different health insurance plan as they could no longer be included on their ex’s policy.
All is not lost. The dependent’s healthcare costs can be included in the settlement, offering a myriad of choices as to how the premiums will be paid. It requires a great deal of compromise, and your attorney will be of much help with this matter.
Discuss the Impact of Divorce on Your Health Insurance with the Lawyers at Bronzino Law Firm in Brick and Seagirt, NJ
The prospect of being left without health insurance can produce a lot of anxiety, even panic. Your world is changing at a lightning-quick pace, and there are many major decisions to be made. If you are considering a separation or divorce or know of someone who is, you need the help of a top-notch family attorney.
If you are doubtful about what your next step should be, we are ready to assist you at the Bronzino Law Firm. We can discuss all of your healthcare options and help you make the best choice for your unique situation.
If you need personalized guidance and assistance with a divorce case in Freehold, Toms River, Jackson, Beach Haven, Monmouth County, Ocean County, and along the Jersey Shore, call us today at (732) 812-3102 to book your free and confidential consultation. Let us get you on the road to the future you see for yourself.