One of the biggest questions that arises in the wake of a New York divorce is: how long can you stay on your former spouse’s health insurance? If you are a stay at home parent or don’t qualify for health coverage under your current employer, then you’re likely to be worried about this issue. In fact, some couples opt for legal separation rather than divorce if the dependent spouse has a medical issue.

In general, your insurance company under your spouse’s policy will end as soon as your divorce goes through. However, most insurance plans will allow you to seek ongoing coverage for up to 36 more months under COBRA, which applies to companies with more than 20 employees. You have to notify the employer’s health plan administrator within 60 days after the divorce is finalized if you want to maintain coverage.

New York Mini-COBRA

Many states, New York included, have their own mini-COBRAs that cover smaller companies with fewer than 20 employees, so if your ex had health insurance through their small employer, you could apply to continue coverage for up to 36 months.

The cost of COBRA coverage

Bear in mind that if you opt for COBRA coverage, you will have to pay the entire premium, which is 102% of the group rate. This is a lot more than the amount deducted from your ex’s paychecks and comes as a surprise to a lot of divorced spouses. As a result, it may be in your best interest to review the private plans available, which can be less expensive and will remain in effect as long as you pay the premiums.

If you have been financially dependent on your spouse for most of the marriage, then you may be able to include insurance premiums for you in your divorce settlement agreement. If the divorce is contested and/or your spouse is being difficult, then a judge can make this ruling so you don’t go unprotected.

What about health insurance for your children?

Unlike you, the health coverage for your children is not affected by your divorce. In most cases, parents will decide who will continue to cover the kids, but if the proceedings are contentious, the court will step in. In your case, your spouse will almost certainly be ordered to maintain coverage.

If you have concerns about your health coverage after divorce, then be sure to raise them with your New York divorce attorney. You have options that include COBRA coverage, private insurance, or coverage through your employer if you opt for a qualifying schedule, and your attorney will help you find a solution that meets your current and future needs. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx divorce and family court lawyer. He has over 36 years of legal experience and offers free initial consultations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he is offering consultations by phone and video conference. You may reach his office at 718-329-9500.