July 2, 2017
Monthly Misconception for July – “We’re divorcing, do what I want or I’ll cancel your health insurance and there isn’t anything you can do about it.”
July 1, 2017
Your soon to be former spouse tells you, “We’re getting divorced, do what I want or I’ll cancel your health insurance and there isn’t anything you can do about it.” Is he or she correct?
The short answer is no, your soon to be former spouse is wrong.
But let me give you a longer more valuable answer.
As soon as a divorce case starts, court orders automatically go into effect without either spouse needing to file motions or go to court to get the orders. These automatic orders are actually called “Automatic Court Orders” and a “Notice of Automatic Court Orders” is attached to every complaint, which is the legal document that starts a divorce case.
Once paragraph of the Automatic Court Orders reads “Neither party (to the divorce) shall cause the other party to be removed from any medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage, and each party shall maintain the existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect.” Another paragraph extends the insurance requirements to include children of the marriage.
If your spouse cancels your medical or dental insurance, or your children’s insurance, after the divorce case starts, he or she has violated the Automatic Court Orders. A court can find your spouse in contempt of court and subject him or her to a variety of consequences, for example ordering him or her to:
- contact the insurer to reinstate the policy;
- pay any reinstatement costs;
- pay medical and dental expenses incurred because of your insurance or your kid’s insurance being cancelled;
- pay your legal fees associated with going to court on the contempt;
- buy you or your children private insurance; and in extreme situations
- go to jail.
So yes, there is definitely something you can do if your spouse violates the Automatic Court Orders and cancels your insurance.
Unfortunately, the insurance company isn’t bound by the Automatic Court Orders or the orders a court enters in response to a spouse violating the Automatic Court Orders by cancelling insurance. This means that if your spouse cancels your insurance, neither the Automatic Court Orders nor any other order a judge might enter, can necessarily reinstate the insurance or reverse the cancellation.
By the way, for a host of reasons, whether you are the spouse carrying the family insurance or the other spouse – it’s almost never a good idea to cancel a spouse’s or child’s health insurance without the consent of the other spouse and a backup insurance plan. Let me repeat this. For a variety of reasons, it’s almost never a good idea to cancel a spouse’s or child’s health insurance without the consent of the other spouse and a backup insurance plan. I give this advice to my client whether he or she is the spouse who provides the insurance or the spouse who is covered under the spouse’s plan.
Feel free to contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone, 203-271-3888, if you’d like to explore this important divorce issue further. Your physical and financial health may depend on how you handle this.
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