Month: October 2019

HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DURING AND AFTER DIVORCE IN CONNECTICUT

This Week’s Blog by Jaime S. Dursht.

HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DURING AND AFTER DIVORCE IN CONNECTICUT

Typically families and couples rely on a single health insurance coverage plan, either through the spouse’s employer or privately, to maintain coverage for the entire family. Once a Judgment of Divorce is entered, the non-subscribing spouse is no longer eligible for coverage under the former spouse’s policy.

CAN YOU REMOVE YOUR SPOUSE FROM HEALTH INSURANCE DURING DIVORCE?

No. First, health insurance regulations do not allow the removal of a covered beneficiary from a policy except during specific periods, but Connecticut Family Law also prohibits removal during the pendency of a divorce action. Doing so is a violation of orders that go into effect at the inception of a divorce case and may result in court-ordered penalties and remedial action.

WHAT IS COBRA AND IS ITS COVERAGE AUTOMATIC?

COBRA is the acronym for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the federal law that allows a spouse who loses coverage due to divorce to continue coverage under the same plan for thirty-six months. The spouse who elects COBRA coverage must take steps with the policy plan administrator and pay for the continued coverage individually. It is advisable to comparison shop before divorce is final to determine whether COBRA coverage is the right option because it is temporary and can be costly. Information on available options is available at www.accesshealthct.com.

WHICH SPOUSE IS OBLIGATED TO PROVIDE HEALTHCARE COVERAGE FOR THE CHILDREN?

The State of Connecticut requires parents to provide health insurance for minor children according to their respective abilities until the later of child/ren reaching the age of 18 or graduating high school but no later than the age of 19. In a divorce, it is typical for the spouse whose coverage is in effect at the time of divorce to agree to continue doing so for so long as it remains available through an employer at a reasonable cost. If it is no longer available to that spouse at a reasonable cost, then the other spouse typically agrees do so if available through an employer at a reasonable cost. If it is not available to either spouse, then both may agree to share the cost of private coverage or apply for HUSKY coverage. Many divorcing parents, agree for health insurance to extend to age 26, the maximum allowable age limit in Connecticut, or until the child is able to secure health insurance through his/her own employer, spouse or domestic partner.

HOW ARE UNREIMBURSED AND UNINSURED MEDICAL EXPENSES PAID AFTER DIVORCE?

Divorced spouses are responsible for his/her own unreimbursed and uninsured medical expenses, including dental, vision and prescriptions. For as long as either parent is responsible for a child’s health insurance, unreimbursed and uninsured medical expenses are paid in proportion to each parent’s percentage share of combined net income but the parties may also to pay according to a different percentage that is negotiated.

ARE FORMER SPOUSES ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICARE BENEFITS?

Medicare is a national health insurance program that provides health insurance for individuals and their spouses who are 65 years and older and who have paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years. After a divorce, one may still be eligible for Medicare based on the former spouse’s work history. In order to qualify using a former spouse’s employment history, one must be unmarried and at least 62 years old, the marriage with the former spouse must have lasted for at least ten years, and the benefit from one’s own employment history is less than that of the former spouse.

The attorneys at the firm of BRODER & ORLAND LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut, are very experienced in all facets of divorce including issues that involve healthcare coverage for the parties and their children.

May A Civil Court Enforce a Ketubah as a “Prenuptial Agreement?”

This Week’s Blog by Andrew M. Eliot.

May a Civil Court Enforce a Ketubah as a “Prenuptial Agreement?”

  • What is a Ketubah?

In the Jewish tradition, many couples (including both observant and non-observant couples) sign a Jewish marriage contract, known as a Ketubah, in conjunction with entering into a civil marriage.   While the wording of Ketubahs is not uniform, generally speaking they outline certain rights and responsibilities of the parties vis-à-vis their spouse. In many (if not most) instances, a Ketubah is viewed by the signatories as merely a symbolic religious document that holds no legal weight, and is often written in a language that the parties may not even understand. But what if one party seeks to have a Ketubah, or certain provisions of the document, enforced as a contract in a divorce?

  • May the Provisions of a Ketubah be Enforced in a Civil Divorce?

The short answer to this complicated question is — it depends. Specifically, it depends upon the nature of the terms or provisions in a Ketubah for which enforcement is sought, and what (if anything) the Ketubah actually says with respect to such terms or provisions. Most notably, it depends on whether a Court’s enforcement of the Ketubah as a contract in the manner requested would violate First Amendment principles.

  • How is the First Amendment Relevant to this Issue?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, in pertinent part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” U.S. Const., amend I. These clauses are commonly referred to as the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. Boiled down to its essence, the First Amendment bars the federal and state governments, including courts, from actions that, “foster an excessive entanglement with religion.” Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). However, this proscription against judicial entanglement with religion does not prohibit courts from adjudicating a dispute solely because it happens to involve a religious institution, party or document. Rather, the First Amendment permits courts to resolve disputes involving religious institutions, parties or documents if, but only if, the court can do so by applying “neutral principles of law.”

  • An Exploration of Relevant Cases

In adjudicating disputes over Ketubahs, the challenge for courts is to determine whether adjudication would, in fact, excessively entangle a court with religious matters in violation of the First Amendment or whether the dispute can be resolved by applying neutral principles of law. This distinction can be highlighted by analyzing two Connecticut cases, one of which was recently litigated by Broder & Orland LLC. In that case, the parties’ Ketubah stated that in the event of a divorce, the parties had agreed to divorce “according to Torah law as is the manner of Jewish people.” The Husband asserted that pursuant to “Torah Law” (1) premarital and inherited property was not subject to equitable distribution; and (2) the Wife could not seek an award of alimony against the Husband. In denying the Husband’s application to have the parties’ Ketubah enforced as a premarital agreement in this manner, the Court reasoned that the Husband was not merely asking the Court to apply “neutral principles of law,” but was instead asking the Court to both interpret and apply religious law and doctrine in direct contravention of First Amendment principles.

This case can be contrasted with the Court’s decision in Light v. Light, 55 Conn. L. Rptr. 145, 148-149, wherein the parties’ Ketubah expressly stated that the Husband would pay the wife $100 per day from the date they physically separated until the date when the Husband granted the Wife a Jewish divorce known as a “get.” The Court enforced that provision of the parties’ Ketubah as a contractual obligation because the relief sought was only to compel the Husband to perform a specified monetary obligation to which he had contractually bound himself and did not require the court to “evaluate the properties of religious teachings.”

Although rare, cases involving religious based agreements are extremely complex and, in order to be handled properly, require a great deal of expertise and attention. At Broder & Orland LLC, we have extensive experience handling matters involving these issues and are poised to help clients achieve favorable and fair results when these issues arise.

 

Hiring a Divorce Attorney in Connecticut

This Week’s Blog by Christopher J. DeMattie.

Hiring a Divorce Attorney in Connecticut

 A divorce is generally one of the most emotional events you can go through. It is also typically the largest and most impactful financial event of your life. If you are thinking about hiring a divorce attorney in Connecticut, one of the first things you should do after obtaining names of a divorce attorney and/or firm, is to Google them. It may sound basic, but you will be able to read the various Google reviews about these attorneys and/or firms and you will quickly be able to vet them based on the experiences of their past clients.

Once you perform your online due diligence, you will want to prepare for your initial consultation. Every case is different, and every attorney is different, so you want to have a list of questions prepared to make sure you and your potential attorney will be the right match. To help you with that process, below is a list of sample questions you may want to consider asking:

  1. How long have you been practicing family law?
  2. How long have you been practicing family law in Connecticut?
  3. What percentage of your practice is devoted to the field of family law?
  4. Do you handle cases involving domestic abuse?
  5. Do you represent a greater number of Husbands or Wives?
  6. Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? Why would there be multiple people working on my case?
  7. What is your availability to talk and email?
  8. What would your colleagues say about you?
  9. What do you think the Judges say about you?
  10. Do you know my spouse’s attorney? When is the last time you had a case with him or her? What was the result?
  11. Do you mediate cases?
  12. Do you practice collaborative law?
  13. Do you litigate cases?
  14. Are there any options to resolve my case between mediation and litigation?
  15. How often are you in court?
  16. When was the last time you had a trial?
  17. Why did the case go to trial and not settle?
  18. How long does a divorce case take?
  19. How many cases are your currently working on?
  20. Do you handle appeals?
  21. What is your hourly rate? What are the rates for other professionals in your office?
  22. What is the amount of your retainer? Do you issue monthly bills?

Broder & Orland LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, CT, concentrates specifically in the areas of family law, matrimonial law and divorce. We understand the importance of an initial consultation for both the prospective client and lawyer. We take the time to answer all of your questions and to set out in detail the divorce process so you leave our office well informed.