Do Parents Have to Provide Health Insurance for Children After a Divorce in California?

Do Parents Have to Provide Health Insurance for Children After a Divorce in California?

Do Parents Have to Provide Health Insurance for Children After a Divorce in California?Health insurance is usually not the first thing that comes to mind during a divorce, but it is incredibly important to think about. It’s usually mandatory in the state of California, so losing health insurance coverage can result in financial consequences for individual spouses as well as their children. If you have detailed questions regarding your health insurance situation after a divorce, contact a San Diego divorce lawyer.

Health Insurance and Divorce

In many situations, families are covered under one spouse’s health plan and are listed as dependents. If the parents of the family get divorced, then the spouse who is not the primary policyholder will not be able to receive coverage after the divorce is finalized. They are still allowed coverage while the divorce is pending.

Health insurance coverage for children is less concrete. If a plan for children’s health insurance coverage is not specifically outlined in a parenting plan, then a judge will usually make a ruling on how children will be covered, if at all.

If one parent has an employer-sponsored plan that formerly covered the whole family, the judge might order the parent to pay for the children’s coverage. If there is no easily accessible health insurance, then both parents might be required to obtain coverage once it is available to them. The details of healthcare coverage for children of divorce are complicated and can vary from case to case.

Coverage Alternatives

Depending on each parent’s financial and employment situation, alternative solutions may be used to provide health insurance coverage for spouses and their children. Solutions include things like:

  • Legal Separation: If both spouses don’t want to remarry right away, then they could consider a legal separation. Legal separation includes many elements of a divorce without officially ending the marriage, including division of assets and child custody. Because the spouses are still married, the family might be able to stay on employer-sponsored coverage while benefiting from the other aspects of legal separation.
  • COBRA Coverage: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, is a way for spouses to receive healthcare coverage after they divorce from their spouse under whom they were covered. A court might order that a spouse with employer-sponsored health insurance pay COBRA for their spouse, or a spouse can choose to do so themselves. COBRA can usually last for a maximum of 36 months.
  • Child and/or Spousal Support: In some cases, a court might require a spouse to pay child support or spousal support. If the spouse receiving support has access to health insurance at that time, the court might also require that the spouse use some of the money received to pay for health insurance coverage for the children. This is usually up to the judge’s discretion and can vary depending on the situation.
  • Alternative Insurance Plans: A spouse might be eligible for Medicaid or a health insurance plan from the health insurance Marketplace depending on their income after the divorce. These plans might cost less than what a spouse might pay in COBRA. This means that it is important to consider these alternative options when determining health insurance coverage for children.

The exact rules on healthcare coverage for spouses and their children vary based on their employment situation, individual income, and any pre-existing conditions. If a judge finds that providing health insurance coverage for children would be prohibitively expensive for both parties, they might not require either spouse to provide coverage until it becomes available.

Other than health insurance, there are other requirements for providing healthcare to children. A child custody agreement must include information on how medical costs associated with children will be paid. If both spouses agree to split the costs, details on how they will be split must be added.

Finalizing Your Divorce


Q: Can I Stay on My Ex-Husband’s Health Insurance in California?

A: In most cases, a spouse cannot stay on their ex-husband’s health insurance in California. Once two spouses get divorced, the spouse using their partner’s health insurance is no longer considered a dependent and is no longer eligible for coverage under their partner’s plan. In some cases, health insurance can be court-mandated to be provided for a spouse, but this is usually temporary and meant to give the covered spouse time to find their own coverage.

Q: Do Both Parents Have to Provide Health Insurance in California?

A: In some cases, both parents have to provide health insurance in California, but in other cases, they don’t. This depends on the specific context of the divorce proceedings. Sometimes, a judge will rule that the spouse who has the most income must pay for health insurance for their children. In other cases, they might make the spouse receiving child support pay for insurance out of their child support payments. Each situation is different, and the outcome can vary considerably.

Q: What Happens to Health Insurance in a Divorce in California?

A: Once a couple gets divorced in California, they are considered to be ineligible for each other’s health insurance plans. If the couple has no children and each pays for their own insurance, each person’s health insurance situation will likely not change much. If one spouse used the other spouse’s insurance coverage and/or covered children through a spouse’s plan, then arrangements must be made for health insurance coverage during the divorce case.

Q: How Does COBRA Insurance Work in a Divorce?

A: If one spouse is covered under the other’s health insurance plan, then the primary policyholder may choose to apply for COBRA in the event of a divorce. This allows the dependent spouse to remain covered for up to 36 months after the divorce is finalized. There are other options for dependent spouses, however, including Medicaid, government-sponsored health insurance, and coverage under their own employer’s health insurance policy.

A Well-Rounded Legal Team

At Bickford Blado & Botros, our staff can educate you on both the legal and financial aspects of your divorce. Some of our legal staff have business degrees and CPA licenses in addition to being licensed by the California State Bar. This means that our firm is educated on the financial implications of divorce and can help answer questions related to asset management, taxes, and health insurance. For more information, schedule a consultation today.



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