Your Benefits: What it means During Your Separation or Divorce

December 11, 2023
December 11, 2023 Plat Simionati

Your Benefits: What it means During Your Separation or Divorce

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide educational information about your divorced spouse, benefits and how the two intersect. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Consult with a lawyer and exercise your discretion before taking action based on the information provided in the blog. 

If you are married, especially if it has been for a while, you have built a life together. Your relationship connects to many areas of your life emotionally and socially, not to mention legally and financially. So, when your marriage comes to an end, you have a lot to unravel.

We previously looked at some areas to consider, including selling your home, but another area often comes up: your medical benefits. Let’s delve deeper into how the medical benefits you or your spouse are entitled to are impacted by your separation or divorce. 

Benefits Breakdown

One substantial concern during divorce is the continuation of benefits, a crucial lifeline for many. This is especially true if you or your ex-spouse are dealing with a\ chronic condition. For example, a Canadian without private insurance and who has Type 1 diabetes may pay up to $18,000 per year (that is over $1,000 monthly) on medication and other expenses. 

The availability of benefits, such as health insurance, can significantly vary depending on marital status and specific provider policies. For married couples, benefits are commonly shared. However, in the case of common-law relationships, entitlement to these benefits might hinge on the provider’s regulations. You need to speak to your provider to confirm who can be covered. 

What happens to medical benefits during a divorce?

Navigating separation and divorce adds layers of complexity, especially when it comes to considering crucial elements like medical benefits.

Imagine this scenario: You hold medical benefits through your job, while your spouse doesn’t enjoy similar coverage through their employer. Complicating matters, your spouse grapples with chronic health conditions, resulting in higher medical expenses. As you both navigate separation, the shift means your benefits no longer extend to your ex-spouse. They find themselves in a position where seeking private coverage becomes a necessity.

The challenge intensifies due to the high costs associated with private plans. Additionally, applying and qualifying for these plans can be challenging, especially with pre-existing conditions.

That is where spousal support intersects with your benefit coverage. Here, the disparity in benefits between partners plays a pivotal role. For instance, if one partner possesses robust coverage while the other lacks any, the calculation of spousal support may include factoring in the expenses required for the uninsured partner’s coverage. Keeping your non-insured spouse on your benefit plan for so long as you are able to can help reduce the amount of spousal support your spouse will receive.  

What will your benefit provider allow your spouse to retain?

Some insurance policies extend coverage to separated spouses but not to those who are officially divorced. However, exceptions may exist where coverage for a divorced spouse is permissible with a court order. It depends on your carrier’s policies – each provider has their own eligibility requirements. 

How do your medical benefits impact your separation negotiations?

Timing becomes pivotal in managing benefits and spousal support. For instance, delaying divorce proceedings can impact your benefits. If one partner provides benefits and is responsible for spousal support, maintaining the marital status might be a strategic choice until a more opportune time arises.

It may make sense to remain legally married, at least for the time being, instead of contributing towards your non-insured partner’s medical expenses.  For example, your separation agreement may contain a clause requiring that neither party files for divorce for a set period and that the non-insured partner remains on the insured partner’s policy during that time. 

Helpful Advice for Your Separation and Divorce

The intersection of divorce, spousal support, and medical benefits forms a complex web that impacts individuals at a deeply personal and financial level. Navigating these intricacies demands careful planning, legal counsel, and an understanding of how decisions made during divorce proceedings can reverberate through post-divorce life.

Ultimately, each divorce is unique, and seeking professional guidance tailored to individual circumstances remains paramount in ensuring a smoother transition through this challenging phase of life. That is why speaking to a family law lawyer for legal advice is vital. 

At Plat Simionati LLP, we only practice family law. Our team has decades of experience helping families move forward after their relationship ends. We are highly knowledgeable in the provincial and federal laws and how they apply to your family 

Contact our office today to discuss your current or future family law needs.