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Can I make his new wife put our kids on her insurance?

This is a difficult question to answer. Thinking about how to answer it leads to several considerations. Health insurance is always a problem in any domestic dispute. In fact, it is generally a problem when couples are together. When they separate it usually only gets worse. It is a problem that goes on beyond divorce. It is similar to child support and visitation. It never ends until the child or children are fully emancipated and neither parent is legally responsible for their care and well-being. It drags in both parents and stepparents if there are any. A person marrying a divorced individual with minor children cannot avoid being part of the problem and solution even though they are not a legal party to any court action. When you marry a divorced person, you marry all his or her legal problems and issues.

VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT

In many divorce cases the parties cannot agree on anything so a voluntary agreement may seem unlikely. However, many times a voluntary agreement is the best solution from a financial point of view. Of course, many people never consider the monetary side but only focus on winning or punishing the other party. Unfortunately in divorce the word “compromise” is a dirty word, one that carries the connotation of losing when a compromise can provide not only the best result but reduce costs including two sets of legal fees. A former wife can present a case to her ex husband that putting the children on the new wife’s health insurance is the smart way to go. That assumes, of course, that it is in fact the best economic solution. You cannot force someone to make a voluntary agreement, but a former wife can “force” her former husband to add the children to the new wife’s health insurance if the former wife makes him an offer too good to refuse.

COURT ORDER

The former wife can always file a motion in the cause asking the court to order her former husband to add the parties’ children to a health insurance plan. That is relatively speaking a fairly normal and routine matter. She must convince the court that providing health insurance is a part of child support, and that she either does not ability to offer insurance or her insurance is too expensive. If she provides coverage, the cost would come out of her child support and thus diminish the money she needs to take care of the children in her custody.

The main problem with asking the court to make the former husband put the children on the new wife’s policy is that the stepparent is not a legal party to the action. The court has no authority to order a stepparent to do anything. They way to get around this is to ask the court to order the former husband to provide coverage. If his own employment policy or an individual policy he would have to purchase is more expensive or provides less coverage than the new wife’s policy, then he just might realize that convincing the new wife to add the children is in everyone’s best interest, but especially his and his new spouse. As pointed out above, the new wife should not be surprised that she is now in the legal proceeding, even if not in name.

INSURANCE CONTRACT

Courts can issue all the orders they want, but children cannot be place on an insurance policy if the terms of the policy do not allow it. An insurance policy is a contract between either an individual or a company and the insurance carrier. The terms of the contract dictate who can be added to the policy. The new spouse’s insurance coverage must allow for step children to be added. It is a simple matter to make this determination. If they can be added, the other question is the cost. Money is almost always a crucial factor in any insurance decision. Again, it should not be a problem to determine the cost. An insurance agent who sold an individual policy would have the answer. If it is a group policy through the new wife’s employment, then someone at the company could provide all the necessary information.

Decisions about health insurance should ideally be made before parties separate. Examination of all the options available through insurance contracts is the most sensible and financially smart way to solve this problem. There is no substitute to a complete understanding as to what the insurance contract says and does not say.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Everyone should have the best interests of the children as their guiding principle. The courts do and Judges frequently cite that reason as the deciding factor in their decisions. If the best interests of the children require putting them on a stepparent’s insurance policy, then that should be the correct decision. If it is not, there is no point to asking to do so just to harm the other parent. In the end, the only people who are harmed are the children. Both parents and stepparents should remember that one day the children will be adults, and they just may remember what happened about their insurance and how they were treated.

In conclusion, there are ways to “force” a new wife to put the kids on her insurance policy. It requires some creative thinking, but most of all it must be guided by the principle that it is in the best interests of the children.