Obtaining or Terminating Benefits After a New Jersey Divorce
Spouses often cover each other under health and life insurance policies. If you decide to divorce from your spouse, you may lose health or life insurance coverage. However, you may still be entitled to other benefits according to a final divorce decree.
If you are considering separating from your spouse, a skilled divorce attorney can help you understand how marriage dissolution impacts specific benefits. To learn more about the process of obtaining or terminating benefits after a New Jersey divorce, reach out to a legal professional at Moskowitz Law Group.
The Impact of Divorce on Health Insurance
One of the primary considerations for many divorcing spouses is maintaining health insurance coverage once their divorce is final. They may have enrolled in their spouse’s insurance plan because it offered greater benefits, was less costly, or their employer did not provide insurance coverage. Regardless of the reason, the prospect of not having health insurance can be overwhelming for anyone facing a divorce.
Fortunately, federal and state law allows New Jersey divorcees to apply for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage. Under a COBRA policy, a party can obtain health insurance on their former spouse’s existing plan for up to 36 months after a divorce. However, parties should be cautioned that COBRA premiums are often much higher than the cost of the coverage before the divorce because the former covering spouse’s employer is no longer contributing toward the cost of the premium.
A spouse who wants to avoid increased premiums could exit their former spouse’s plan and obtain their own insurance through their employer or the Affordable Care Act. Another option is to secure additional alimony to cover the cost of individual insurance post-divorce. Depending on the divorce terms, the spouse carrying the health insurance may have the legal right to terminate their former spouse’s coverage once a judge issues a final divorce decree.
Health Insurance for Children
Notwithstanding the custodial arrangement after a divorce, under New Jersey Statutes Annotated §2A:34-23(c), a court can require that a parent maintain health insurance for their children. A judge can allocate the plan’s cost between the parents or order one party to pay it as part of a child support obligation. A Qualified Medical Child Support Order gives custodial parents the right to use the noncustodial parent’s health plan for their children. A knowledgeable New Jersey divorce attorney can help an individual explore various health insurance coverage and choose a plan that makes sense for them and their family.
Divorce and Social Security Benefits
Under state and federal law, divorce does not affect the Social Security benefits a spouse can receive based on their own work history. A divorced spouse will still receive the total amount due them under the plan. However, if a person intends to collect social security benefits based on their spouse’s contributions, they may only remain eligible for these benefits post-divorce if:
- Their spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits
- They are age 62 or older
- They are not remarried
- They were married to their spouse for ten years or more
- The amount they are eligible to receive based on their work history does not exceed the amount they would receive based on the ex-spouse’s employment contributions
Individuals who meet these criteria can receive benefits even if their ex-spouse has not yet applied for them as long as the divorce has been final for at least two years. Social security regulations are complex, so it is best to consult with a New Jersey divorce attorney who can ensure that a party complies with regulations and does not miss out on benefits.
Pension and Retirement Benefits in a New Jersey Divorce
Marriage dissolution does not necessarily terminate a party’s right to receive a portion of their ex-spouse’s retirement assets. Under state law, a court must divide all marital property equitably in a divorce, including pension and retirement benefits. However, a spouse seeking some of the other party’s retirement accounts must notify the court of this request and present or demand evidence to demonstrate the value of the benefits and why they are entitled to share in them.
Additionally, a spouse generally needs the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney to draft and submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to properly secure their interest in the former spouse’s retirement plan. These orders require the plan administrator to distribute the receiving spouse’s share to them directly or via a deposit into another qualified retirement account.
Discuss Obtaining or Terminating Benefits After a New Jersey Divorce with a Skilled Attorney
It is essential to ensure you qualify for or continue to receive all the benefits you are entitled to post-marriage dissolution. A dedicated divorce attorney can help secure health insurance, social security benefits, and your interest in your former spouse’s retirement plan in your divorce. Contact our office today to learn more about obtaining or terminating benefits after a New Jersey divorce.