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San Diego Residents Should Deal With Health Insurance During an Uncontested California Divorce

Posted by Thomas Huguenor on March 12, 2015 in Divorce

This is the next post in my series discussing issues that should be considered prior beginning an uncontested California divorce. My last post discussed why it is important for parents to make a plan for their children’s college education while negotiating their divorce. In this post I will discuss why it is important to familiarize yourself with your spouse’s health insurance plan early and to include in your divorce settlement a plan for the uninsured spouse to find new coverage.

Health insurance paid for through an employer will not cover an ex-spouse once a California divorce is finalized

It is unlikely that one has had experience finding insurance through the open market if they are used to receiving health coverage from a spouse’s employer. In many cases a parting couple may neglect to consider that one of the parties will lose this health coverage once the divorce is finalized. This often leads the uninsured ex-spouse being ill prepared for the additional cost of paying for private health insurance.

It is important for both spouses to become familiar with their current health insurance plan in order to avoid a break in coverage. Most plans will continue to cover both spouses until the divorce is finalized. In limited circumstances, certain plans may allow for qualifying ex-spouses to remain on a health insurance plan for up to 18 months following the finalization of the divorce. Such extended coverage, however, is often in a limited capacity and may be costly. In situations in which one spouse has immediate health issues then it is may be desirable for the couple to enter into a legal separation until the spouse’s health crisis has resolved. This is often a way to keep the health insurance for both spouses intact while moving forward with a permanent separation. One spouse may worry that their former partner will cancel their health insurance early, and leave them without medical care, in especially contentious divorce cases. Such conduct is not legal in California. Should your ex-spouse cancel your health insurance in the middle of the divorce process, it is important to contact a family lawyer immediately.

These issues highlight the importance of dealing with health insurance considerations when negotiating an uncontested divorce.

A San Diego divorce attorney can ensure that health insurance part of your settlement

In many cases a San Diego family law attorney can ensure that an uninsured spouse will receive assistance in finding proper health insurance. A number of scenarios are possible in long-term marriages where one was a homemaker. One, the employed spouse may be ordered to either pay the uninsured spouse cash to pay for a private insurance plan or to pay for a plan directly that covers both the uninsured ex-spouse and any children. Money for health insurance may also be included as part of an alimony agreement. If the uninsured spouse has a job that does offer health insurance coverage then it is also possible that a Judge will rule for the spouse to go on their own employer’s health plan.

For marriages that lasted only a short duration then the answer may not be so simple. Health insurance is not considered property. It does not have to be “equally divided” in a divorce settlement – meaning, one spouse is not required to be given assistance with insurance. There is not set formula for deciding on spousal maintenance in a divorce; a Judge will consider a spouse’s education, training, employability, and work history, as well as the length of the marriage and the established standard of living. If the spouse is provided with alimony, it is likely that some portion of the money provided will be expected to be used for health insurance. If the alimony is only ordered for a certain period of time, then it is important for the receiving spouse to plan accordingly for the period when alimony payments cease, and they must take over their insurance payments.

If you are currently going through a divorce, and have concerns about your health insurance, it is important to get those questions answered early on. Contact our San Diego family office today to speak with a lawyer.

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Posted in: Divorce

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