In a previous post, we began looking at the issue of health care coverage as a factor in negotiating property division in divorce. Loss of health insurance coverage can and should be used as a bargaining chip in property division to ensure the spouse losing coverage is not unfairly disadvantaged after divorce.
Loss of health insurance coverage is also a factor in calculating spousal maintenance. Specifically, when it comes to awards of temporary spousal maintenance, courts use a fixed formula to determine the presumptively correct amount. Courts may alter the award, though, based on a number of factors, including loss of health care insurance coverage.
Whether loss of health insurance benefits upon divorce is a factor justifying a larger temporary spousal maintenance award depends on the availability and cost of alternative medical insurance. Along with loss of health insurance benefits, the need to pay for medical treatment for children is another factor that can justify a larger temporary spousal maintenance award. Loss of health insurance coverage could also potentially justify a smaller maintenance award, too, when the payor spouse stands to lose health insurance coverage because of divorce. This is probably a less likely scenario, but it depends on the circumstances of the case.
In addition to temporary maintenance, there is also continuing maintenance. Family court judges do have some discretion in determining maintenance awards, so there is no guarantee of receiving a given amount. That being said, working with an experienced family law attorney can help ensure that a spouse has the best possible chance of receiving a fair amount of spousal maintenance, not only during divorce proceedings, but continuing after divorce, if necessary.