As Philadelphia divorce lawyers, we know that all kinds of things change when you get divorced – your living situation, your finances, bedtime duties, you name it. Often people are not certain what happens to their health insurance and life insurance when their marriage breaks up.

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For starters, most people are aware that if a couple gets divorced, the spouse who maintained health insurance for both spouses through employment during the marriage can no longer keep his or her ex-spouse as a beneficiary of the health insurance policy. Pursuant to federal law, the spouse who loses coverage is a “qualified beneficiary” eligible for COBRA insurance. COBRA provides only temporary coverage, and it tends to be expensive. Therefore, the spouse who will need independent coverage should start researching plans early on, before the divorce is finalized.

A related issue is whether the spouse providing coverage must keep the other spouse on his or her health insurance during the divorce proceedings. The answer is yes, you should keep the other insured, unless they ask that you remove them. Nothing prevents you from removing the other spouse as beneficiary, however he or she has the right to request the court to reinstate the insurance, and will likely win, or get the court to order that you pay for alternative insurance.

Similarly, any life insurance policies that were in place during the marriage should stay in effect during the divorce proceedings. In fact, if your case goes to court, the court has authority under Pennsylvania law to order the policy to stay in place after the divorce. Moreover, the court might instruct the spouse who is responsible to pay child support and/or alimony to purchase life insurance designating the children and/or ex-spouse as beneficiaries. Even in out-of-court property settlements, spouses often agree to a life insurance provision to secure payment of child support or alimony.

Contact a Philadelphia divorce lawyer to learn more about health and life insurance in divorce.