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Divorce can affect one's employment benefits

Mistakes happen: that is a fact of life. During stressful times, it is easy to overlook things. While one may have his or her mind on personal matters, it may not occur to a California resident that there could be an employment-related aspect that may be affected by his or her divorce.

A county commission in another state has decided to run an audit to check whether any of its employees have ineligible dependents listed on their health insurance. A recent change to personnel policy makes this an offence punishable by dismissal, and with a potential obligation to refund any claims that were paid out. A grace period will exist in order to allow employees to bring the details of their dependents up to date.

This move is not an unusual one – many companies provide health insurance for employees and their dependents, and the costs can be significant. Rather than the information being incorrect due to a deliberate attempt to defraud, it is more likely that much of it stems from misunderstanding the rules. While it may be a requirement of a divorce settlement to continue to provide medical insurance for a former spouse, the county's plan would not cover this eventuality, and the employee would have to buy an insurance policy elsewhere for his or her ex-spouse. This would also apply to any step-children.

Health insurance policies can differ, so it is better for California residents to check the rules relating to any insurance provided by their employers. Divorce may feel like a purely personal matter, but it can also affect life insurance or pension entitlements, if these are also provided as part of one's company benefits. A little forethought in seeking appropriate advice can help one avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary stress at a later date.

Source: macon.com, "Health insurance audit will weed out ineligible dependents", Wayne Crenshaw, Nov. 4, 2016

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