New Jersey State Bar Association
Bergen County Bar Association
NYSBA

Health Insurance for Kids After Divorce in New Jersey

November 3, 2017

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In a recent New Jersey child support decision, the defendant appealed reconsideration of an order that required him to pay a $5,000 health insurance deductible for his five children. The mother and father had divorced in 2007. Their final divorce judgment set forth that the father would have to maintain the five kids on his medical insurance after the marriage was dissolved. The mother was ordered to pay the first $250 of unreimbursed medical expenses for each child every year, but after that, the expenses would be shared proportionately, such that the mother would pay for 40% of the amounts over $250 each year, per child, and the father would be responsible for 60% of the amounts over $250 each year, per child.

In 2015, the former couple came before the family division judge after the father moved to compel the mother to apply for health insurance for the kids in New Jersey. The mother filed a cross-motion, demanding that the father continue providing health insurance through United Health Care or a comparable insurer. She argued that the father hadn’t gotten coverage through United Health Care but instead through Care Connect, which wasn’t contracted with the State of New Jersey. She complained that because of this, she had to take the kids to New York for medical care.

The judge contacted the insurer by telephone. Based on the father’s claim that the maximum out of pocket on the former policy was $5,000, the court found out from the insurer that comparable coverage could be as low as $392 or as high as $1,196 each year. The parent providing coverage would receive the bill. The court ordered the mom to apply for insurance through United Health Care for comparable coverage to the former United Health Care coverage with the $5,000 deductible. The father was ordered to pay by advancing the mother the amount of three months of premiums at a time. He also had to pay 60% of medical bills.

The mother asked the court to reconsider. Although she bought insurance for the kids from an insurer for $554.68 per month, the father did not advance her the amount of the premiums. She also advised the judge that the prior plan didn’t have a $5,000 deductible and that a plan that didn’t have such a deductible wouldn’t be near the price the judge was quoted. She asked the father to pay the entire $5,000 deductible. The father objected.

The court then ordered that the father pay the premiums for all of the emancipated children and be responsible for the whole $5,000 deductible for each year. It denied the father’s motion for reconsideration, claiming that there were no new facts, and denied the father’s request that the mother pay the first $250 per child in expenses not reimbursed. The court stated in its order that it had ordered a change based on the father’s request but also to give the mother control over the policy so that she could make sure there was insurance in place for the kids.

The father appealed, arguing that it was a mistake for the lower court to require him to pay the full deductible because it went against the original decree, created a financial hardship, and wasn’t in the kids’ best interest. The appellate court explained that it owed great deference to the discretionary decisions of family judges. In this case, the larger deductible resulted in lower premiums for comparable coverage. The father’s financial responsibility for the deductible increased a little bit, but there was no modification of the former spouses’ 60/40 sharing of what wasn’t reimbursed by insurance. The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

If you are considering a divorce in Bergen County, and you are concerned about child support issues, it is important to retain an experienced and aggressive attorney to seek an appropriate outcome. Contact the lawyers of Leopold Law at (201) 345-5907 or through our online form. We have attorneys available who can handle all aspects of a divorce.

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