3 Tips About Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Social Security and Divorce

For many individuals, divorce can be emotionally stressful and financially confusing. The future can seem vague, especially with regard to finances and insurance policies that have been running on "auto pilot" during the marriage.

If you're getting a divorce, now is the time to think about what will happen to your health insurance, life insurance beneficiaries, and Social Security benefits after your divorce.

While each divorce is different and deserving of its own skilled legal team, here are some general answers about health insurance, life insurance, and Social Security.

Can I stay on my spouse's health insurance policy after the divorce?
Essentially, the answer to this question is "No." Once you get divorced, you cannot stay on your spouse's health insurance, however, your children can and probably should.

Once the divorce is final, you can qualify for COBRA coverage, but COBRA only lasts 36 months. Our advice to you is to get your own health insurance as soon as possible.

Can I remove my spouse as the beneficiary on my life insurance policy?
You can remove your spouse as a beneficiary on your life insurance police if:

  • The divorce action hasn't started, or
  • Your divorce is finalized.

If you are in the process of getting divorced, then it depends. Many states impose an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) while couples are in the process of divorcing. An ATRO prohibits either spouse from making changes to accounts, changing beneficiaries, selling property, etc. without the consent of the other spouse and/or the court.

When we dig a little deeper, the issue of life insurance can be important when used to secure payments for alimony or child support. If your spouse is the higher earner who will be paying alimony or child support, we recommend that you purchase a life insurance policy on your spouse to secure these divorce settlement payments.

However, this life insurance should be purchased before the divorce is finalized; you should make yourself the owner and the beneficiary of the policy. This way, you can ensure that the payments are paid on time and there aren't any beneficiary changes without your knowledge.

Can my ex receive a portion of my Social Security benefits?
Yes, if you are at least 62 years old and you are now receiving Social Security benefits, your ex will be entitled to half of your benefits providing:

  • They are not married.
  • They are at least 62 years old.
  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
  • Their Social Security benefits on their own work record are less than yours.

Your ex's benefits will not reduce your benefits in any way. If they meet the requirements stated above, you will still receive 100 percent of your benefits, and the government will pay your ex 50 percent of the amount that you receive.

Contact a San Fernando divorce lawyer from Cutter & Lax to work with a board certified family law specialist!