Figuring out health insurance coverage for yourself can be tough, not to mention the responsibility of covering a spouse and/or dependents. The end of a marriage is one big reason people often want to cancel their spouse’s coverage. And with many insurance companies raising monthly premiums for spouses, partners and dependents, it may no longer make sense financially.

If you’re wondering when you’re allowed to exclude your spouse (or soon-to-be ex) from your policy, we have answers. Although plans vary, there are a couple of basic rules they all follow.

  • During the open enrollment period, you are free to adjust various aspects of your coverage, including canceling your spouse’s coverage. Open enrollment periods vary from one insurance carrier to the next; many happen near the end of the calendar year, but some happen at other times of year. Ask your employer if you’re not sure.
  • HOWEVER, in Missouri, there is a prohibition against canceling your spouse’s insurance coverage, or coverage of any dependents, while your divorce is pending.  Review Section 452.317 RSMo closely and get advice from your attorney before canceling coverage during open enrollment or any other time before your divorce is final. 


  • Once your divorce has been granted, you are likely able to change coverage and cancel your ex-spouse’s coverage outside of an open enrollment period.  Divorce is considered a ‘’qualifying life event” and you can cancel or change coverage so long as you notify your employer within 30 or 60 days (plans vary). 
  • Other qualifying life events include:
  • Legal separation
    • Change in employment status for your spouse, particularly if they now have access to employer-based coverage
    • Change in your own employment status, such as job loss, or reduction in the number of hours you work, as that may make you ineligible for your current plan

      After your divorce is final, you should notify your employer about your new single status (assuming there is no requirement that you continue covering your spouse post-divorce) so that you can remove your ex-spouse from coverage within the required time frame.

      It’s best to check with your employer’s benefits manager or directly with the insurance company to find out what qualifies as a life event and the timeframe for notifications of that event.

      Your spouse or ex probably has other insurance options available to them, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The next ACA enrollment period starts November 1, 2022 and runs for an extended time until January 15, 2023. The ACA also offers special enrollment periods during the year for reasons that include losing other insurance coverage. They can go to to enroll.


      The highly experienced attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, can provide all the legal guidance you need.