Continuing Health Insurance: A Critical Issue in New Mexico Divorces

Given the rising cost of health care, a major concern for couples involved in a divorce is the question of continuing health insurance coverage during and after a divorce. In New Mexico, when a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, which begins the divorce process, the courts generally enter a Temporary Domestic Order ("TDO"). The TDO binds both parties and prohibits them from making major changes to the parties' financial status and prevents both parties from cancelling insurance coverage for their spouse or children. Although the TDO requires that health insurance coverage be maintained while a divorce is pending, after the divorce is complete the district courts generally do not have jurisdiction to require that one spouse continue to provide insurance coverage for the other. Further, most insurance companies that provide coverage to employee's spouses will not allow that coverage to continue after a divorce and the district courts cannot force those companies to do so. Occasionally, a health insurance company will allow continued coverage after parties obtain a legal separation, which is one reason why some people seek legal separation rather than a divorce. In contrast, the New Mexico child support guidelines require parents to provide health insurance coverage to their children after a divorce, if health insurance is available to the parents. However, which parent is required to provide the coverage can depend on a variety of factors including the cost to each parent. Anyone involved in a divorce in which a party has cancelled health insurance coverage in violation of the TDO should immediately consult an an experienced divorce attorney about how to enforce the TDO. Similarly, anyone in involved in a child support dispute should consult an attorney to discuss their rights and responsibilities with respect to health insurance coverage for their children. Collins & Collins, P.C. Albuquerque Attorneys DISCLAIMER

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