When two people are married, it is typical that one spouse pays for health insurance for both parties through their employer-sponsored health care plan. When a divorce happens, many people wonder what happens to these benefits. In short, the spouse who is currently paying for health insurance is not required to continue to pay for their ex’s health insurance.
There are some unique cases where a party may want to pay for health insurance in exchange for lower or no spousal maintenance payments. However, taking an ex off your insurance plan is not an easy process, and the court will have a lot of say on when or if you can remove your former spouse.
There are several steps to keep in mind regarding the dissolution of health insurance benefits. The San Antonio divorce lawyers at Grable Grimshaw PLLC can help advocate for your best interests in divorce proceedings.
Health insurance payments during divorce
A judge will file temporary orders throughout the divorce process regarding various matters. One of these typically includes that health insurance coverage cannot change while a divorce is ongoing. Health insurance coverage is addressed and finalized in the divorce decree. Therefore, even though you have filed for divorce, you are legally tied to your ex until the divorce is final. If you provide health insurance for your children, these policies cannot be altered or changed without the approval of the court.
However, you do have options. For example, you may take a dependent spouse off your insurance plan if they have managed to secure their own health insurance through a job or other means. If this is the case, then the providing spouse can transfer to a new plan. However, you should first discuss this option with your divorce attorney so the court does not see the change as an attempt to stop paying your spouse’s health insurance.
Health insurance payments after divorce
No law requires a spouse to pay for their ex-spouse’s medical needs. However, there are some stipulations regarding health insurance after divorce. Under Texas law, health insurance coverage ends when the divorce is final. A judge can grant a request for the insured spouse to continue to provide benefits to the other spouse for a period after the divorce is final. This is not standard, but is a stipulation that can be afforded in some cases. Dependent spouses will also have the opportunity to keep their coverage through COBRA.
COBRA and divorce in San Antonio
Under COBRA, a dependent spouse can maintain their insurance coverage for up to three years. The caveat, however, is the dependent spouse must file for COBRA within 60 days of becoming eligible. If the deadline passes, then the dependent spouse cannot obtain benefits. Once COBRA benefits run out, or a spouse is deemed ineligible, they need to find coverage elsewhere. One option would be to apply for state-sponsored health insurance.
Spousal maintenance and divorce
There are several creative ways to address health insurance and spousal maintenance, or alimony. One way to continue health insurance benefits is to include them in a spousal support or divorce agreement. These agreements are highly customizable, and no two arrangements are the same. One creative way to address spousal maintenance and health insurance is by stipulating that the paying spouse is responsible for paying health insurance in lieu of support. One spouse can also agree to provide health insurance to reduce their alimony payments.
Spousal maintenance is meant to afford the dependent spouse the financial foundation to continue to support themselves through the divorce and once the divorce is finalized. There are different kinds of spousal support available.
The first is temporary spousal support. This form of support is awarded while the divorce is pending. It is meant to support a spouse who is unable to work or has not worked outside of the home in order to care for the family. However, this support is temporary until the spouse can get on their feet. It is not a permanent order.
The second option is post-divorce maintenance. Once the divorce is finalized, one spouse can continue to provide payments and assistance. The court must determine that even after all property is divided, one spouse will be unable to meet their monthly expenses after the marriage ends. Post-divorce maintenance is typically available when:
- The marriage lasted over 10 years
- One spouse has a disability
- The spouse requesting maintenance cares for a disabled child
- Domestic violence occurred within two years of filing for divorce
- The requesting spouse has attempted to secure income during the divorce proceedings
Many factors determine spousal maintenance, and you must work with your San Antonio divorce attorney to find the best solution.
Can I get legally separated in San Antonio?
In Texas, there is no option for legal separation. You are either married or divorced. This means all marital accounts are the responsibility of both spouses until a divorce decree is signed and finalized. This can only differ if there is a postnuptial agreement in place or a judge orders a temporary decision on specific marital issues.
Divorce is a complex process, and you need someone with the skills and knowledge to get the best results possible for your case. If you are unsure whether you will need to continue providing benefits for your former spouse after a divorce, Grable Grimshaw PLLC is here to help. Call our office at 210-761-5687, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.