FAQs: Divorce in NJ Part IV

What will Happen to my Health Insurance Coverage if I get a Divorce in NJ?

Non-spouses cannot be covered by health insurance plans received through an employer - no matter how friendly the spouses remain after the lawsuit. However, there are a few options to keep some coverage on the spouse when the marriage is dissolved. First, you can get coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), get coverage through your own employer, if available, or purchase your own private plan. All of these are unfortunately going to be more expensive than a family plan, but you might be able to get some reimbursement or spousal support to help defray the costs of this - at least at first.

What is COBRA?

COBRA is a federal government plan which allows former spouses to receive health insurance when it otherwise would not be available. This can be a great option, especially in a pinch. However, COBRA is significantly more expensive, and it is meant to be a temporary measure. Therefore, COBRA lasts only up to 36 months, so you will eventually need to find your own health care coverage after the divorce.

What Happens to my Life Insurance After a New Jersey Divorce?

First, if you have not gotten a life insurance plan while you were married, then you need to be prepared to take one out if you get a divorce in NJ. If you are ordered to pay child or spousal support, the court might require you to get a plan. This is so that your spouse will not have to sue your estate in the event of your death. The plan the paying spouse must get should be big enough to cover the whole amount paid over the period of time as ordered or agreed to. So, for example, if one spouse is ordered to pay $500.00 each month for five years, then they will need to have a life insurance policy that will be worth at least $30,000.00 with the ex-spouse as the beneficiary.

What if my Spouse is Already the Beneficiary During the Marriage and I Want Them off Once we Finalize the Divorce in NJ?

That depends. New Jersey courts rely on a 'revocation upon divorce' law to decide. Under any contractual obligation, if one spouse has named another as a beneficiary, then this is automatically revoked upon divorce. Therefore, you must keep in this in mind when going through the process of divorce, particularly if you and your spouse are older, or in bad health.

What Should I Expect Upon the Death of my Spouse During or After a Divorce in NJ?

There are so many variables that can affect your financial life if your spouse dies - both during the litigation and after. Alimony payments will usually cease if either spouse dies. But, if the paying spouse was behind on their payments, then they might be entitled to make a claim against the deceased spouse's estate. In contrast, child support will not end upon the paying spouse's death, but rather will continue to be paid by the estate. Crucially, you should seek out the advice of a probate attorney once you divorce so that you can amend your wills. In New Jersey, the surviving current spouse can receive an elective share of a third of their spouse's estate - even if they are not included in the will. However, this share will not be given to the spouse if they were not living together, or had a divorce from bed and board - or if they were divorced.

If I am at Retirement age, are There any Special Considerations I Should Make When Contemplating a Divorce in NJ?

Usually, yes. These divorces will usually involve a couple who have been married for several decades. This means they have a sizable marital estate, with most of their wealth tied up in real property and retirement. Both of these assets are tricky to value and divide, and any financial hit a party takes will be more difficult to recoup. Parties in a 'grey divorce' have less time to make up any losses. This is imperative to understand when dividing up retirement, especially if one spouse was the primary breadwinner and the other stayed home to take care of their children. You are also entitled to each other's Social Security benefits if they are eligible to receive it. Given the nature of going through a grey divorce in NJ, you should seek out the advice of an attorney who has experience with large estates.

Is Mediation Required if I'm Getting a Divorce in NJ?

The court system is designed to encourage mediation and settlement out of court whenever possible. Usually, judges will prefer to divorce a couple who has voluntarily attempted to resolve their issues. In other jurisdictions, mediation will be required. Court Rule 1:40-5 requires parties who have a contested custody or parenting time matter must attend mediation. Luckily this kind of mediation is free. If parties have not resolved certain financial issues, then they have to attend 'economic' mediation. Rule 5 requires parties to attend a New Jersey Early Settlement Panel (ESP), which is another method of resolving disputes before heading to trial. Mediation or alternative dispute resolution are both excellent options for parties who are close to agreeing, or who do not want to spend the time and money in preparing for a long trial.

See also Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 1, Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 2, Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 3, and Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 5. If you have questions about what to expect if you go through a divorce in NJ, contact the law offices of Peter Van Aulen today for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.

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