It is not uncommon for one spouse to have significant health care needs during the course of a marriage and have a hard time finding stable employment. Often, theses health care needs are met by the other spouse being employed where health insurance is offered as an employment benefit and is affordable. But what happens when the parties decide to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage?
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that mediating these types of cases requires the consideration of an additional issues to a divorce case – the need for and cost of health insurance. There are several different options that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators can suggest to the two spouses to consider.
The first option is whether health insurance remains available for the spouse in need through the other spouse’s employer after the divorce is finalized. Obviously, this would be the best option, but not all employers allow a divorced spouse to remain on the employee’s health insurance policy. If this option is available, the issue becomes how long will the employed spouse be required to maintain health insurance for the benefit of his or her former spouse. In addition, if the employed spouse intends to remarry only the new spouse or former spouse will be allowed to be covered on the employee’s policy.
Another possibility is COBRA – which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act. It helps people who lose health insurance for various reasons, including divorce but it can be pricey. It can cost up to four times as much as what is paid through the other spouses’ employer. COBRA has a time limit which is 18 months, but it is possible to request an extension.
The spouse with health issues can apply for health insurance through Obamacare, but the cost is usually based on the parties’ federal income tax return from the prior year. This can be problematic if the prior year was a joint return because it does not accurately reflect the income of the spouse who has health issues. However, the actual cost of health insurance can at least be calculated.
Another option is to include the cost of health insurance for the spouse with health needs into a monthly spousal support obligation for the other spouse. At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that this option can make the mediation become contentious and adversarial.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators recognize that the cost of health insurance can become the major focus at some mediations. Obviously, this issue is extremely important to the person who has health issues and if it not properly resolved can cause serious problems in attempting to draft a mediated settlement agreement.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we strive to have the parties reach an agreement that settles their divorce.