I was watching television the other night, trying to pretend
I could still stay up late and function the next day whenI came across a show called “Who the bleep
did I marry.”In this episode,
California police detective John Pomroy was detailing how his ex-wife Tina
received half of their marital estate even though she tried to hire a hitman to
Tina was physically abusive and suffered from addictions to
prescription medications, alcohol and illegal drugs, so it was no surprise that
John was awarded custody of the couple’s children in their 2002 divorce
action.Most individuals would be very
upset in this situation, but Tina took it a step further.
Conveniently, some members of a biker gang lived nearby and
she tried to hire them to kill her husband.Unfortunately for Tina she solicited members with scruples, as they
quickly ratted her out to the police.Undercover officers then caught Tina in the act and she was eventually
convicted of solicitation for murder.
Due to California law at the time, a spouse was only barred
from receiving assets if she personally attempted the murder, not if she hired
someone.As one would imagine, John was
quite irritated by this legal loophole, so he made it his mission to get the
John’s goal became reality – California Family Code Section
4324 states “when a spouse is convicted of attempting to murder the other
spouse…or of soliciting the murder of the other spouse…the injured spouse shall
be entitled to a prohibition of any temporary or permanent award for spousal
support or medical, life, or other insurance benefits or payments from the
injured spouse to the other spouse.”The
injured spouse need not actually be physically injured for this to apply.
It seems ridiculous that this law had not always been in
effect or that the judge in the Pomroy case wouldn’t have been a trailblazer
and set new precedent, but just watching the news will tell you there’s a lot
of ridiculousness out there.In fact, I
think that’s even a television show.
With all of the press surrounding Obamacare and
health insurance plan compliance, it led me to thinking about divorced or
separated couples covering their kiddos on their health insurance (because the
law is what an attorney day dreams about). Often times the court only
requires one parent to provide the insurance, for a variety of reasons.
One parent’s plan may be too expensive, or the benefits may not be as good as
the other’s coverage. The individual incomes of each parent, whether or
not they fall below a certain percentage of the federal poverty level, and if
the child is covered by Medicaid are also factors for the court to consider.
Both parents may have a legal obligation to provide
coverage for their children, if available at reasonable cost. The word
“reasonable” is quite open to interpretation in all areas of the law (and life
in general), but luckily for all of us, the Michigan Child Support Formula
Manual spells that out. A “reasonable cost” for health care coverage is
no more than 5% of that parent’s gross income.
Talking about health care insurance routinely raises
one’s blood pressure when you contemplate what you pay for coverage and what
the insurance company provides you with in benefits. It seems like the
companies deny claims right and left despite the enormous premiums you pay each
year. I regularly feel like I need a drink after getting off the phone
with my insurance company. Many parents cover the children on their
health insurance regardless of whether or not it falls within the 5% dollar
amount, because they make too much money to qualify for a government assisted
plan but don’t want their children to go without coverage.
If you cover your children on your health care
insurance and either receive or pay child support, be certain to include that
coverage amount for child support calculation purposes. The parent paying
for the health care coverage will receive a credit (read: deduction) in the
formula if he pays support, or a premium adjustment payment (read: additional
support monies) if he receives support. Additionally, if the cost of your
health care skyrockets at each yearly open enrollment, you may wish to have
child support reviewed based on this new, higher cost that you are
For those of you who might be worried that you are
paying a premium adjustment to your ex and reimbursing her for her personal
health care coverage, don’t fret. The child support formula calculates
the cost for the children only based on the number of individuals on the
One last bit of medical advice:the next time you have to call up your
insurance company to find out why your son’s asthma medication isn’t covered
anymore, pour that drink before you pick up the phone.