Employee Benefits in a San Diego Divorce
One of the major benefits of marriage is the ability to enjoy lowered premium rates on health insurance policies, access to pension plans, and even stock options. However, all of these benefits can be lost in a divorce or be subject to a property division. Untangling these benefits is a complicated, but necessary, component to any divorce and should be handled by an experienced attorney.
At Mattis Law, A.P.C., our San Diego family law attorneys do not shy from complex cases and have the necessary skill and knowledge to represent you throughout your divorce. Whether you need assistance determining how your stock options are divided or ensuring your pension plan is protected, we can provide thorough legal guidance. To discuss your case further in a free initial consultation, contact Mattis Law, A.P.C. at (858) 328-4400.
Once you have worked with a company for a certain period of time, you can gain access to certain benefits, such as health insurance coverage, employee stock options, and pension plans. Typically, these employee benefits can be shared with a spouse, allowing you to easily add your partner to an insurance policy. In addition, if one of you dies, then the other may be able to receive pension payments as part of the company policy. However, this all can change drastically in a divorce.
For one, health insurance policies should end after a divorce is finalized, meaning one or both of you can receive coverage at a family rate while you are separated. But these policies do not automatically change when you are divorced, and you should take steps to immediately update them. This notice should be provided to your policyholder within 60 days of your divorce. At this point, your ex-spouse will be allowed to apply for the same policy based on COBRA.
However, if you notify the policyholder after 60 days, then your ex-spouse would not be able to receive COBRA benefits. In addition, if the policyholder is not notified about the divorce in a timely manner, then it could impact both of your abilities to file a claim as the provider may determine that one or both of you are ineligible for coverage. This is why notifying a policyholder quickly and efficiently is important, as it can impact your health insurance coverage drastically.
With regard to children in a divorce, they are still allowed to remain on the plan without any changes as they are still considered family under the law. The only reason a child would lose insurance is if one of the parents removed them from the plan or the parent also lost insurance coverage.
Pension plans and stock options can be considered communal property under California law, but this all depends on when you had access to them. If you began paying into a pension plan or received stock options prior to your marriage or after the date of separation, then they are considered separate property and you have sole ownership. This means you would not have to divide them in a divorce.
That being said, if you started paying for your pension plan after you got married, then it is considered communal property. This is because you were legally using marital funds to pay for your pension plan, as you and your spouse shared an income under the law. Thus, your pension plan could be subject to property division. What makes it more complicated than most other assets is that you will have to put an estimated value on how much you will contribute to it in the future and how it should be divided.
Many of the same issues extend to stock options, which can become extremely complicated if you have a significant portion of stocks and the value is not clear. With a high-asset divorce, you will want to work closely with a knowledgeable attorney and financial advisors.
Tackling the complex nature of employee benefits in a divorce can be extremely intimidating without the expertise of a skilled San Diego divorce attorney. At Mattis Law, A.P.C., our team has more than four decades of experience handling complicated cases for our clients. Both of our lead attorneys can thoroughly breakdown how your assets should be divided, including your employee benefits, and how they can be valued. If you need assistance determining the value of your assets in a divorce, reach out to our office at (858) 328-4400 for a no-cost initial consultation.