Divorce comes with plenty of losses, but many of those things are recoverable in time. However, the loss of healthcare is not so easy to replace, and going without it for even a short period can result in long-term medical and financial problems. This could be a serious problem if you are facing divorce while currently under your spouse's health plan. New Jersey law requires continued coverage for your children, but you will have to obtain coverage on your own, either through your employer or by enrolling for a plan under the Affordable Care Act. While the ACA's health insurance marketplace offers a great range of coverage, the lowest plan for New Jersey residents cost an average of $279 per month in 2015. This is a reasonable rate, but it may not be affordable depending on your income, even if you were to receive alimony and/or child support. On the other hand, not being covered at all could present problems in the form of annual tax penalties, which are set to increase each year.
One alternative you may want to consider is COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), under which you can continue coverage under your spouse's plan at your own cost. The benefit here is that you can continue to receive the same level of coverage, which is important if you have on-going medical conditions. The downside is that the coverage is only for a set time period, and there are certain qualifications you would need to meet in order to be approved. It's also quite possible that you won't be able to afford the COBRA rate, especially if you were covered under a higher level plan.
If none of the above mentioned options are feasible, there are two situations you will want to discuss with a family law attorney. The first is to file for a divorce from bed and board, which is a form of legal separation that allows you to stay married. You will be able to able to draft a separation agreement with terms for custody, support, property division, etc., just as you would in a divorce agreement. There are other conditions you may want to stipulate, such as how long both parties must wait before filing for divorce. The second option is to negotiate for health insurance coverage as part of your divorce settlement. You will most likely have to agree to some sort of trade-off such as less alimony or giving up certain properties. In this case, you should definitely work with an attorney who can help you negotiate the terms that are in your best interest.
If you are about to lose your health insurance due to divorce, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. In addition to health insurance, there are many other rights and protections that you will need to safeguard during and after your divorce. Our lawyers look forward to advising you on these issues during a free initial consultation.