Whether you are in the middle of a highly contentious divorce or about to initiate an uncontested divorce, it is important to weigh the impacts that the divorce may have on insurance coverage for you, your spouse and your children.
A frequent question clients pose concerns whether their spouse can cancel health insurance before the divorce is filed or while it is pending. While health insurance policies vary between employers, there is nothing under Texas law which automatically protects you from such actions. Instead, the best step which you can take to prevent any possible cancellation of health insurance benefits is to obtain a temporary restraining order from the court in which you’re filing your divorce. Such temporary restraining orders (TRO’s) are a common part of the divorce process in Texas. In fact, some courts (such as the 387th Judicial District Court of Fort Bend County, Texas) have standing restraining orders which prohibit such cancellations by spouses involved in divorces in their courts.
Ultimately, however, if you rely upon your spouse for health insurance, you will eventually need to look into options available to you after the divorce is finalized. One such option are your rights to continue coverage under the Consolidates Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (commonly known as “COBRA”). Yes, this is the same law you commonly invoke to keep your health insurance benefits when you switch jobs or become unemployed. Such rights vary depending on whether state law applies to your policy or the federal law concerning health insurance, but you should be able to keep your spouse’s health insurance coverage for yourself for anywhere from 18 to 36 months. Keep in mind, however, that this can be costly in some circumstances, so you may want to compare this coverage against what is available from an independent health insurance agent.
As for health insurance coverage for children, the party who is ordered to pay child support will also be the person financially responsible for health insurance for the children. If that parent has coverage available through work, that may be the best option. Otherwise, the other parent can carry health insurance and the non-carrying parent will be required to pay the actual cost of the monthly premium as additional child support.
In any event, health insurance coverage is one of the most important elements of planning for a post-divorce world. If you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation, contact our Houston divorce attorney, Bobby L. Warren, at 713-579-9702.