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Monday, June 30, 2014

Supreme Court of the United States rules on the Hobby Lobby Case

Link below to read the heavily contested SCOTUS opinion, June 30, 2014, written by Justice Alito.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The California Hitman Law

I was watching television the other night, trying to pretend I could still stay up late and function the next day when  I 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 kill him.

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 law changed.

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.

Covering the kids on your health insurance

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 contributing.
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 policy.

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.
If you are interested in learning more, or downloading a free copy of the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual and its supplement, you can find them both on the Michigan Courts One Court of Justice website: