When going through a divorce, it is easy to focus on the present. Your life is changing, the process is stressful, and you need to manage it all while going to work and staying positive for your children. However, going through a divorce is also about planning for the future. In this regard, one aspect that gets overlooked far too often is planning for health care needs.
Health care planning is one of the more unique aspects of the divorce process. While paying for health insurance and health care expenses generally falls to the party who provided it before separation and may be under the umbrellas of alimony and child support (to an extent), there are certain factors that warrant additional consideration.
Health Care Planning and Divorce
If you are preparing to go through a divorce in San Diego’s North County, here are some important factors to keep in mind:
1. Health Insurance Premiums
If you do not expect to receive alimony following your divorce, then you will be responsible for your own health insurance premiums. You can continue to cover this expense in the same way that you did during your marriage (i.e. by buying private health insurance or continuing coverage through your employer). If you will be seeking alimony and you do not have a job that provides health insurance, then you will likely want to factor the cost of coverage into your spousal support calculation.
Regarding health insurance for your children, the cost of premiums will generally be addressed as a component of child support. If either or both parents have access to insurance at no cost or a reasonable cost (i.e. through their employment), then they will be required to continue to provide coverage for their children after their divorce.
2. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Insurance
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal law that requires employers to continue to provide health insurance coverage for their employees’ former spouses for up to 36 months following a divorce. COBRA insurance is not available to everyone (for example, among other conditions, COBRA only applies to employers with 20 or more employees); but, if you or your spouse will have access to COBRA insurance after your divorce, this should factor into any calculation of spousal support.
Since other laws require parents to provide reasonable health insurance for their children, COBRA may not apply to children’s health insurance after a divorce.
3. Routine Health Care Expenses Not Covered by Insurance
Uncovered health care expenses – including annual physicals, dental and eye exams, and doctor’s visits for minor illnesses – generally fall within the scope of alimony and child support as well. California Child Support includes considerations for insured medical expenses. The same is not true when it comes to alimony.
4. Unexpected Health Care Costs and Special Needs
Finally, addressing unexpected health care costs or costs associated with a child’s or former spouse’s special needs requires particular attention in a divorce. While divorcing spouses can account for these costs in conjunction with the calculation of child support and alimony, they must be specifically addressed in order for them to be chargeable.
When accounting for long-term and unforeseen medical needs, divorcing spouses must thoroughly consider all possibilities and all options that are available, and focus on negotiating a divorce settlement agreement that provides adequate financial security for the decades to come.
Request a Case Evaluation with North County, CA Divorce Lawyer Richard M. Renkin
If you are contemplating a divorce and would like more information about the options for covering health care-related expenses once your marriage is over, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial case evaluation. To request an appointment with North County, CA divorce lawyer Richard M. Renkin, please call 619-299-7100 or send us a message online today.