Can I Stay on My Ex-Spouse’s Health Insurance After Texas Divorce?

divorce decree and gavel
Many Texas families are insured through one spouse’s employer-sponsored health care plan. But what happens when a marriage falls apart? Can a non-employee spouse stay on their ex-spouse’s health insurance following a divorce? What about the children?

If you are getting divorced, it makes sense to wonder if you can stay on your spouse’s health insurance after your divorce is finalized. Today, we will discuss whether a non-employee spouse can keep the former spouse’s insurance coverage even though they are not married anymore.

Consult with a Lampasas County divorce attorney to consider your options regarding health insurance for yourself and your children.

Can I Stay on My Spouse’s Health Insurance During Divorce Proceedings?

Yes, many Texas counties have standing orders that automatically become effective once a spouse files a petition for divorce. Essentially, a standing order is a court order that prevents spouses from altering their health insurance while the divorce is pending (Read more about Grounds for Divorce in the State of Texas).

The standing order goes into effect once one of the spouses files for divorce and the other is served with divorce papers. Aside from this standing order, Texas courts have the authority to issue other temporary orders to set restrictions and spell out the spouses’ rights and obligations during the divorce proceedings.

When a standing order is issued, your spouse cannot remove you from health insurance or otherwise make any changes to health insurance coverage while the divorce case is pending.

If you file for divorce in a county that does not have a health insurance standing order and your spouse has removed you from their health plan (or threatened to do so), contact your attorney right away.

Can the Children Stay on My Former Spouse’s Health Insurance After a Divorce?

In counties with standing orders, spouses are prohibited from altering health insurance coverage for both their spouses and children if a divorce is still ongoing.

But what happens after the divorce is final? Will your children stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance following the divorce?

In most cases, your children’s health insurance is not affected by your divorce. However, determining who should provide health insurance for kids following a divorce can get complicated in Texas.

Typically, the non-custodial parent – the parent who does not have primary custody of the child – is ordered to pay child support following a divorce. Texas Family Code § 154.064 also requires the non-custodial parent to provide health insurance for their children. However, the cost of health insurance cannot exceed 9% of the non-custodial parent’s annual resources.

(Wondering how to change custody arrangements? Read this article: How to Modify Child Custody (Conservatorship) in Texas?

Can You Stay on Your Former Spouse’s Health Insurance Following a Divorce?

The question of health insurance following a divorce is more complicated for former spouses. Typically, skilled attorneys will include provisions in the divorce settlement to require the spouse with employer-sponsored health insurance to continue providing that coverage to their ex-spouse for a specified number of years after a divorce.

Without such a provision in a divorce settlement, the non-employee spouse will not be able to stay on their ex-spouse’s health insurance once the divorce is final.

However, the non-employee spouse may still be entitled to coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a federal Act that allows employees and their dependents to keep health insurance coverage in situations where they would otherwise lose the coverage.

Am I Eligible for COBRA Health Insurance After a Texas Divorce?

If you are eligible to obtain coverage through the COBRA, you can stay on your former spouse’s health insurance coverage for up to 36 months (three years) after the divorce.

However, to be eligible for COBRA health insurance following a divorce, the non-employee former spouse must send notice to the administrator of their ex-spouse’s health plan within 60 days of the date of finalizing the divorce.

If you fail to provide the notice within 60 days, you will not be eligible to stay on your former spouse’s health insurance through COBRA. You may qualify for COBRA coverage if your former spouse works for a:

  1. A private-sector employer with 20 employees or more; or

  2. A state or local government.

Generally, spouses are not entitled to coverage through COBRA when their ex-spouse has a health plan sponsored by:

  • The federal government

  • Churches

  • Certain church-related organizations

If you do not qualify for COBRA health insurance after your divorce, you may still be able to maintain coverage through a state-sponsored “mini-COBRA” program.

What Medical Care is Covered Under COBRA?

Under COBRA, covered medical care includes:

  • Physician care

  • Prescription medications

  • Inpatient and outpatient care at hospitals

  • Dental care

  • Vision care

  • Surgeries

  • Other major medical benefits

Note: Life insurance and disability benefits are not considered medical care under COBRA. Thus, health plans that provide only disability and life insurance benefits are not covered under COBRA.

Beneficiaries that qualify for COBRA health insurance must pay up to 102% of the cost of the health plan to continue coverage under the federal act. The figure accounts for the total premium and a 2% administrative fee.

There may be cheaper options for health insurance following a divorce. However, obtaining coverage through COBRA may be a good option for the first two years after divorce until you get your life back on track.

What if I’m Not Eligible for Health Insurance Through COBRA?

In Texas, employees and their dependents who are not eligible for COBRA-sponsored health insurance may qualify for the so-called mini-COBRA program sponsored by the State of Texas.

The mini-COBRA program may apply in the following situations:

  1. If a non-employee spouse is not eligible for health insurance under the federal COBRA, they may stay on their former spouse’s health plan for up to nine months; or

  2. If a non-employee spouse has exhausted their benefits under COBRA, they can obtain coverage from the state-sponsored program for six months.

Speak with a Lampasas County Divorce Attorney

If you are worried that you or your children may not be able to stay on your former spouse’s health insurance following a Texas divorce, contact an attorney to discuss your options.

At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our divorce attorneys are dedicated to helping you understand your options and identify the insurance coverage option that is best for you. Call 254-501-4040 or contact us online to schedule a case review.

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