Assuming there was a family health insurance plan at the beginning of the case, the court is going to want to make sure the children are provided with health insurance after the divorce is over. That will usually fall upon the obligation of the person who had customarily been providing that insurance. The problem has to do with the other spouse because after a divorce, if it’s a family plan, that person is no longer a spouse and therefore, can no longer be on a family plan. In that instance, when negotiating a settlement, for example, it has to be considered that this other person is going to lose health insurance benefits. That can be dealt with through increases in the amounts of spousal support or a shift of the equitable distribution of assets to compensate financially, so the other spouse can afford health insurance on his or her own.
If the court is left to make the decision, the court may, in fact, impose a burden on the person paying spousal maintenance to make up for the loss of health insurance benefits. In fact, that’s one of the factors when the court is considering a maintenance award. However, most people today, because of the burden of the cost of health insurance, will stay separated instead of divorced. They will actually enter into a separation agreement which settles all issues arising from the marriage the same way a divorce settlement would, but at the end of the day, they are still legally married. Therefore, the person who is the non-insured party, if you will, can remain on the health insurance plan under the family plan because there’s been no divorce. That can’t be forever. Eventually people want to move on. The issue is pretty much just for the moment dealt with in that manner. Eventually it’s going to have to be addressed and that other person is going to have to get their own health insurance somehow.
Robert Pollack is an experienced divorce and family law attorney in Long Island, New York. Contact The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., to set up a free initial consultation.