Whenever a woman asks me a question about what we can make happen in the divorce, I have two answers. If it goes to court, there’s one set of answers, and if we’re able to reach an agreement regarding the distribution of the assets and liabilities in a marriage, there’s a whole other set of answers.
Of course, it depends on the question being asked as well. Today, we’re looking at one specific question: Can I get him to pay for my medical expenses in the divorce?
Medical expenses in divorce
So, when we’re talking about medical expenses in divorce, we’re often talking about two different things: health insurance, and unreimbursed medical expenses. Fortunately for us, the answers here are fairly cut and dry.
If your case goes to court
Though a wide range of outcomes are generally possible in court (after all, the final decision is the judge’s, and not all judges are the same; there’s necessarily some variation in the manner in which a judge exercises his not inconsiderable discretion), when it comes to this particular issue, the range of outcomes is probably more finite. Keep in mind, though, that an attorney can NEVER guarantee an outcome; that’s the risk you take when you to go court.
Generally speaking, health insurance is covered by the party who currently covers the health insurance, at least until entry of the final divorce decree. If your health insurance is maintained through his employment, it’s likely that the judge would order that he continue to cover it until your final divorce decree is entered.
If you maintain separate health insurance policies, you’re likely to have to continue doing that. If he hasn’t maintained your health insurance, he won’t be ordered to start now, in other words.
Why can’t he keep covering your health insurance after entry of the final divorce decree? Well, that’s due more to health insurance companies than to the jerkiness of your soon-to-be ex husband. Health insurance companies only allow people to insure family members; once you get divorced, you no longer qualify to receive coverage under his policy. I don’t know any health insurance companies that offer exceptions, unless you’re a 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 military spouse. There are no similar civilian policies or exceptions.
Military 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 Exception
If you’re a 20/20/20 spouse (meaning that you’ve been married at least twenty years, your husband has served at least twenty years in the military, and at least twenty of those years have overlapped), you can maintain your TriCare coverage. You take on essentially retired military status, and you can keep TriCare permanently.
If you’re a 20/20/15 spouse (meaning that you’ve been married at least twenty years, your husband has served at least twenty years in the military, and at least fifteen of those years have overlapped), you can maintain TriCare coverage for one year.
Unreimbursed medical expenses
Unreimbursed medical expenses are those portions of your health related costs that aren’t covered by health insurance – so, like, copays, and anything else that the insurance didn’t cover when it was billed by your healthcare provider.
Generally speaking, in court, the judge will order that both parties are responsible for their own unreimbursed medical expenses. There could be exceptions – like where one party has excessive unreimbursed medical expenses related to some serious medical condition – but I’m just telling you what I generally see.
Most of the time, it’s probably unlikely that a judge would make him responsible for a portion of your unreimbursed expenses, though, like anything where a judge is concerned, it could happen.
If you reach an agreement
So, where an agreement is concerned, the possibilities are much more wide reaching. In a word, anything can happen! Whatever you are able to reach an agreement on can be reflected in your agreement.
Practically speaking, though, you’ll be a little bit bound by what your attorney (and your husband’s attorney) thinks will happen in court. Probably there’s no much use fighting over whether he’ll maintain your health insurance; if he’s covering it now, the judge is so likely to extend that coverage, that his attorney likely won’t see the point of going to court to litigate over it.
Where unreimbursed medical expenses are concerned, the same probably applies. If we can get him to agree to cover a portion of your unreimbursed expenses, or your therapy expenses or some particular category of expense, then great. If we can’t, we probably want to think really hard about whether it’s worth going to court to litigate the issue. Chances are, it’s probably not. But if he agrees, even better!
There are often a wide range of potential outcomes in cases like these, so don’t be surprised that it’s not cut and dry. We can almost never guarantee an outcome (at least, not a specific one!) but we can provide you with some general guidelines and considerations that judges and attorneys use to make determinations in cases like these.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.