Taking Advantage of COBRA During Your Divorce

By Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Read Related Article: Health Insurance and the 60-Day Divorce Rule

There are 5 steps you should take during your divorce to take advantage of COBRA.

Sixty days may be all the time you have after your divorce is finalized to request healthcare insurance coverage through your ex-spouse’s plan.

If you’ve heard about Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) from your ex’s employer, then there’s a good chance this 60-day rule applies to you.

Follow these 5 steps to take advantage of COBRA:

1. Contact the benefits office. Request current healthcare insurance information for your spouse’s plan. You may use a discovery device, such as an interrogatory, to your spouse or a records production device, such as a subpoena, to your spouse’s benefits office.

At a minimum, you should request the plan summary, the cost per person covered, any optional coverages, the latest COBRA notice letter, and the name, address and telephone number of the individual who receives notices of qualifying events, such as your divorce.

You might also request all information regarding federal programs, state programs or employer programs that assist individuals with paying the costs to continue coverage.

2. Investigate plans. Use the period before your divorce to investigate other healthcare insurance plans. Given the high cost of COBRA coverage, you may find an individual private plan is more affordable.

3. Request alimony to pay premiums. If you cannot locate a private plan or do not qualify for one, then you might use the anticipated high cost for COBRA coverage as a basis to request alimony to help defray the costs. Be careful, however, because alimony will be taxable income to you.

4. Request an offset or deviation because you pay premiums. Similarly, you might use the high cost to obtain COBRA coverage as a bargaining tool to avoid paying alimony or to deviate from your state’s child support requirements.

5. Obtain a copy of your divorce decree.  Be sure to obtain an official copy of your decree, preferably the same day your divorce is final, to send with your notice to the benefits office.

And, always, review your options thoroughly with an attorney and the benefits office. Cordell & Cordell has family law attorneys located nationwide.

Miss your 60-day notice period, and you could be foreclosed from continued coverage altogether. But if researched and noticed properly, you could have an extra three years of insurance and at a reduced rate.

Read Related Article: Health Insurance and the 60-Day Divorce Rule


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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