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March 2012

Divorces and the importance of health insurance in your RI divorce settlement agreement!

Many Rhode Island divorce litigants are under the misconception that if they are carried on their spouses' health insurance that they are automatically entitled to continue receiving that insurance after a final judgment of divorce is entered.

This is a myth.  No person is “entitled” to receive health insurance from their spouse under any Rhode Island law or case currently in existence.

Therefore, if health insurance is an important concern in your divorce planning, then you should certainly discuss with your Rhode Island divorce attorney how you can make certain that your healthcare related insurances continue after the final judgment of divorce is entered by the Rhode Island Family Court judge.

In many cases the health insurance plan may have been set up according to federal law. In many cases if the health insurance is set up under federal laws, then and ex-spouse will not be covered once a final judgment is entered.   It is in those cases that settlement becomes much more difficult.



Imagine a situation in which Gail and Rudy have been married for 10 years. Gail has been on Rudy's health care insurance for the entire time. During their marriage Gail contracted a condition which requires ongoing care. If Gail were to try to obtain new health insurance, it is very likely that health insurers would consider this a pre-existing condition and would not cover the treatment that Gail needs. In that situation, it would be extremely important to negotiate a marital settlement which might account for Gail needing more than the regular share of the marital assets because she may have to pay for her continuing treatment out-of-pocket.

The quickest way to determine whether or not this will be an issue is to contact the benefits coordinator and/or the health care insurer to find out whether ex-spouses can be covered at all after a Rhode Island final judgment of divorce enters.

If Gail finds that she can't be covered as an ex-spouse after the final judgment of divorce enters than she needs to be taking this into consideration when entering into any marital and/or property settlement agreement. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be necessary to request that she be awarded 30% more of the marital assets then Rudy in order to offset the lack of healthcare benefits.

 The most important thing to remember is that you do not receive health care coverage automatically since you have been previously covered by your spouse's healthcare insurance.

 All My Best To Everyone Who Goes before The Rhode Island Family Courts,

  I'm Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."