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  1. #1
    jennymay is offline Junior Member
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    My unemployed "ex-" husband demands to be kept on my health insurance

    I am in California.

    I am doing all the court filings on my own in my divorce from my husband. I have already served him with all the divorce documents for an uncontested divorce, and so far, he simply refuses to take any part in the process.

    However, because I am keeping the apartment, he drafted a a paper regarding the separation of our possessions. Stupidly I signed it without looking closer at the document. He slipped in a note that I am to keep him on my company health insurance until he finds employment.

    My question is: Can he legally do this? This document has not been notarized or submitted to the courts at all. Since I am filing the actual divorce papers issued by the court, do I have to uphold this ridiculous paper?
    Can someone give me some advice in this matter?

    Thank you
  2. #2
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Until it is signed by the courts, it is not binding as a divorce item.

    HOWEVER, depending on the wording, it may be binding as a contract. For example, "I agree to keep x on my health insurance" could be considered binding as a standalone agreement.

    The other problem is that it's asking you to do something that you may not be able to do. Your company has no obligation to let you keep him on your insurance after the divorce. (He MAY be eligible for COBRA, but COBRA usually isn't a very good deal unless he's completely uninsurable).

    You can't cancel insurance now while the divorce is pending. So I would simply write up the proposed decree for submission to the judge without his insurance clause. If he wants to contest it, he can.
  3. #3
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Once more I feel compelled to point out that in 30 years of administering employer sponsored benefits, I have yet to see a plan that did not have a provision for keeping a divorced spouse on the plan. And I have had employees in CA.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  4. #4
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    Once more I feel compelled to point out that in 30 years of administering employer sponsored benefits, I have yet to see a plan that did not have a provision for keeping a divorced spouse on the plan. And I have had employees in CA.
    That may be true. I simply said that it MAY not be possible and the company has no obligation. They can do it if they wish (in some states).
  5. #5
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Depending on how the plan is worded, they MAY be obligated. You can't say categorically that they are not. And you have not yet shown me a law in any state that PROHIBITS a company from allowing their employees to cover divorced spouses.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  6. #6
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    Depending on how the plan is worded, they MAY be obligated. You can't say categorically that they are not. And you have not yet shown me a law in any state that PROHIBITS a company from allowing their employees to cover divorced spouses.
    I never said it was prohibited. (However, at least in NJ it IS prohibited).

    Health insurance is an employee benefit which costs the employer money. They do it for goodwill for their employees. There is no reason to insure an ex-spouse unless required by law.

    I've worked for a number of companies and NONE of them would offer insurance for ex-spouses.

    However, if you insist:

    New Jersey
    [url]http://www.divorcesource.com/NJ/ARTICLES/sliwinski55.html[/url]
    "A divorce causes major issues with health insurance benefits. Many families have an employer provided and/or paid for health insurance benefits that cover health insurance for the entire family. After a divorce, the spouse with the family health insurance coverage can no longer cover the other dependent spouse. They are no longer "family" members who can take advantage of the employer-based health insurance policy. There is no way around this unfortunate reality."


    Or, let's look at FEHB (for Federal employees):
    [url]http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/faq/divorce.asp#2[/url]
    "Your spouse is eligible for coverage while you are in the process of getting divorced and even while you are legally separated. Your spouse loses eligibility for coverage as a family member when your divorce is final." (the spouse MAY be eligible for his own coverage as a former spouse of a federal employee, but the employee can't have him on her policy)

    General rule:
    [url]http://www.wife.org/lowenstein.htm[/url]
    "If your health insurance is through your spouse’s employer, once the divorce is final you will need to obtain health insurance for yourself."

    Another general rule:
    [url]http://www.millenniumdivorce.com/articles-divorce/art29.asp[/url]
    "Health insurance providers rarely allow a party to continue to provide insurance coverage for a former spouse following a divorce."

    More general rules:
    [url]http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/11-20-2005-81868.asp[/url]
    "After a divorce, the spouse with the family health insurance coverage can no longer cover the other parent. They are no longer "family" members who can take advantage of one health insurance policy."

    Or:
    [url]http://www.18884mydivorce.com/pub/Alimony/health-insurance.htm[/url]
    " the couple can agree to keep the non-primary spouse on the plan after divorce OR the court can order the coverage to continue. The actual truth is this type of arrangement is impossible. After divorce, the former spouse is an independent adult and is not eligible to remain on the same health insurance policy. Even if the two of you agree to this type of arrange, the insurance company will put a stop to it and drop the non-primary person from the policy"

    Rhode Island
    [url]http://www.articlesbase.com/advertising-articles/health-insurance-coverage-for-spouse-after-divorce-in-rhode-island-1887804.html[/url]
    At one time, it was allowed, but this rule has been watered down by the courts since it is pre-empted by ERISA.

    I think the problem is that many states talk about continuation of health insurance, but they're talking about COBRA. IL is representative:
    [url]http://insurance.illinois.gov/HealthInsurance/continueSpouse.asp[/url]
    The law requires that continuation be offered in the event of divorce. But once you read it, it is clear that they're talking about a COBRA-like policy. The spouse does NOT stay on the employee's policy, but can rather be given their own policy for a period of 3 years after the divorce. This is essentially the same as COBRA and is NOT what you are suggesting (that the spouse stays on the employee's policy).

    So far, I didn't find a single state that even allowed the spouse to stay on the employee's policy, much less required it. Every state that I reviewed was like IL - they offered the spouse to get their own coverage under a COBRA-like scheme.
    Last edited by mistoffolees; 11-03-2010 at 09:23 PM.
  7. #7
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    Depending on how the plan is worded, they MAY be obligated. You can't say categorically that they are not. And you have not yet shown me a law in any state that PROHIBITS a company from allowing their employees to cover divorced spouses.
    What the heck, let's look at CA:

    [url=http://www.familylawsoftware.com/splitgen/sp/ca/spouseonhealthinsurance.htm]California Law - Must The Payer Keep The Spouse On His/Her Health Insurance?[/url]
    "There is no state statutory provision in California requiring a spouse to keep a former spouse on the health insurance policy. A former spouse may have conversion rights under the other spouse's group plan."
    So it's not required but employer can offer COBRA

    Here's a CA attorney:
    [url=http://oc-divorce.typepad.com/california_divorce_and_fa/2006/10/divorce_and_hea.html]California Divorce and Family Law: Divorce and Health Insurance Benefits[/url]
    "After a divorce, the spouse with the family health insurance coverage can no longer cover the other parent. They are no longer "family" members who can take advantage of one health insurance policy."

    Another CA attorney:
    [url=http://www.cadivorce.com/after-divorce/finding-health-insurance-after-divorce.htm]Finding Health Insurance After Divorce[/url]
    "Many families have health insurance through an employer to cover the entire family. After a divorce, the spouse whose employer provides such benefits can no longer cover the dependent spouse, and unfortunately, there is no way around this."

    Looks like the CA attorneys agree with me.



    You're welcome.
  8. #8
    jennymay is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you so much for the replies.

    If i understand it right, the issues you are bringing up that there is no requirement of keeping a former spouse under the health plan only applies to after the divorce. Since I have open the divorce case, doe sit already apply at this point?
    I am only asking, because the open enrollment deadline for the new fiscal year ends Friday, 11/12/2010. It will cost me an extra $1500 for the year if I have to still include him under the plan.
  9. #9
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennymay View Post
    Thank you so much for the replies.

    If i understand it right, the issues you are bringing up that there is no requirement of keeping a former spouse under the health plan only applies to after the divorce. Since I have open the divorce case, doe sit already apply at this point?
    I am only asking, because the open enrollment deadline for the new fiscal year ends Friday, 11/12/2010. It will cost me an extra $1500 for the year if I have to still include him under the plan.
    WHILE THE DIVORCE IS PENDING, you MUST keep your spouse on your health insurance. If you cut him off now, you could be responsible for any health expenses he has or you could be held in contempt.

    All of the above only applies after the divorce is final.
  10. #10
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennymay View Post
    I am only asking, because the open enrollment deadline for the new fiscal year ends Friday, 11/12/2010. It will cost me an extra $1500 for the year if I have to still include him under the plan.
    You may want to read that standard restraining order on the back of your summons.....

    Specifically the part that says:

    STARTING IMMEDIATELY, you, your spouse or domestic partner are restrained from:
    Then look at #2:
    2. Cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, automobile and disability, held for the benefit of the parties and their minor child or children.
    Last edited by CourtClerk; 11-03-2010 at 09:59 PM.
  11. #11
    jennymay is offline Junior Member
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    thank you very much. That helped a lot
  12. #12
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennymay View Post
    I am in California.

    I am doing all the court filings on my own in my divorce from my husband. I have already served him with all the divorce documents for an uncontested divorce, and so far, he simply refuses to take any part in the process.

    However, because I am keeping the apartment, he drafted a a paper regarding the separation of our possessions. Stupidly I signed it without looking closer at the document. He slipped in a note that I am to keep him on my company health insurance until he finds employment.

    My question is: Can he legally do this? This document has not been notarized or submitted to the courts at all. Since I am filing the actual divorce papers issued by the court, do I have to uphold this ridiculous paper?
    Can someone give me some advice in this matter?

    Thank you
    Before doing anything, check with your employer to see if that's even possible. Many employer plans will not permit an ex spouse to stay on the plan, other than the option of purchasing Cobra coverage, which is very expensive.

    However, anything that has not been signed off on by a judge, is not enforceable.
  13. #13
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    I want to see an actual statute that says the employer is prohibited from allowing a employee to cover their former spouse, not a newsletter article. The most you've shown me so far is that there is no statute that says they must, not that there is a statute that says they can't.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  14. #14
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    I want to see an actual statute that says the employer is prohibited from allowing a employee to cover their former spouse, not a newsletter article. The most you've shown me so far is that there is no statute that says they must, not that there is a statute that says they can't.
    There is no statute that says that they cannot because its up to the employer who they are willing to allow to be covered under their "group"...well, at least for now. Healthcare reform may change that.

    Some employers cover employees only. Some offer family coverage. Some offer domestic partner coverage, some don't. Some allow stepchildren to be covered, some don't. Some that do allow stepchildren to be covered only allow it if they are primarily living with the family in question...etc...etc..

    I have yet to encounter an employer that allows ex spouses to be covered in any manner other than COBRA. You say that its quite common. Therefore there must be regional differences.
  15. #15
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    There is no statute that says that they cannot because its up to the employer who they are willing to allow to be covered under their "group"

    My point exactly. Since there is no statute, and since it is entirely up to the employer who can be covered on their group, no one here can say with certainty whether an ex-spouse can be covered or not. That is PRECISELY what I have been saying.

    I have been administering employer sponsored group benefits for over 30 years. This is what I do for a living. I find it quite frustrating when people who do NOT do this for a living make flat statements. Misto has said that IN SOME STATES the employer can do it if they want to. This implies that there must be some states where they cannot do it - in other words, that it is prohibited. While I am prepared to acknowledge that there may be regional differences in what is common, I have had employees in more than half the states, including the OP's state. All he has shown me so far are newsletter articles saying that it cannot be done, and a newsletter article is not binding on the employer. And, in fact, in my state, it is REQUIRED by state law that an employee be allowed to cover their ex-spouse beyond the limits of COBRA. I have personal reason to know this one since it affected my husband.

    So don't tell me it can't be done. It can be done. It's not a guarantee that it WILL be done, depending on the wording of the policy, but a flat out statement that it CANNOT be done is wrong.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.

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