January 2009 Archives
One of the important issues family law lawyers think of in divorce cases is the cost and availability of health insurance for our clients once their marriages end, when their coverage is through their spouse's employer. With pre-existing problems, lower income, and lack of health insurance, they may be unable to pay for decent medical care, or chose between taking medication and paying the mortage.
While COBRA rights may allow coverage for a period of time after divorce, eventually even that will lapse. How to keep insurance longer and what it will cost are things you should discuss with a certified specialist in family law. If you live in Northern San Diego County, consider calling one of the specialists at www.divorceandmediation.com, with offices in Carlsbad, Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe. [COBRA is an acronym or shorthand for legislation that may provide the right to keep your group policy for a limited period after divorce or termination of employment]
The problem is magnified for woman, who may have pre-existing conditions and higher insurance costs even if they can get coverage. In my practice, the wife is far more likely to face this issue than the husband. Options may include buying a policy while you qualify before COBRA expires, seeking employment with benefits, or negotiating a delay in obtaining a divorce so the wife can remain covered longer.
Many insurers justify higher premiums for woman based on studies they are more accident prone, and more likely to break bones or be ill. Although COBRA may give you the right to coverage for some time, cost may be the first limitation.
The wife of the doctor with the missing kidney has surfaced, and of course she has a different story from that of her husband. In her version, HE was the one who had the affair [at least the first affair], not she. Who knows, who cares? For the purpose of this story, I care.
In San Diego County, when we hear stories like that of Dr. and Mrs. Batista [of kidney swap fame], we have a saying: "Darth Vader doesn't marry Snow White."
Not that there aren't many marriages where one party is evil and the other a victim, it's just that its pretty likely that neither party is perfect - they found one another after all. Whether true or not, judges are jaded by that aphorism - they tend to stop listening to the charges after the first sentence or two. After awhile, it always gets a little ding-dong, as in "For every Ding, there's a Dong", another Divorce lawyer adage.
The consequence of that reasoning is a lessening of interest in the details of the case. Judges, in part because of the crunch of time, and in part by the repetitive nature of the work, tend to pigeon hole cases which makes decisions easier. Unfortunataly, that often puts the parties on an equal footing even though one is trying his or her best to be cooperative, and the other trying to make as much mischief as possible.
Clients often fail to understand why it is important to be on their absolute best behavior during their divorce case - if the judge believe one side is acting improperly, he or she tends to assume there is misconduct on the other side, so it is important that they not be given a reason to believe their assumption is correct - you don't want to give the judge any reason to believe you aren't Snow White.
If, for no other reason, that is why we recommend some type of alternate dispute resolution, from mediation, collaborative practice, and on to private judging where you need someone with authority to pay attention and make hard decisions. In these forums there is a greater chance the differences between the parties will be more apparent, and dealt with appropriately.
One of the fun things about being a lawyer is going to seminars. That is where I'm typing this.
The presenters today are good, the facility great, the food more than adequate, including macadamia nut and chocolate chip copies and individual bottles of imported sparkling water.
Yet, this is only Day Two, and there is another day to go thanks to the MLK weekend. To renew your license in California, a lawyer needs some of this - not a lot, however. As a certified specialist in family law, I'm required to have about 12 hours a year of high end family law seminars, on average. Because this is an average spaced out over 5 years, and we don't tend to keep track on a regular basis, it's important to have extra hours.
Right now, I'm learning a well prepared divorce lawyer needs a $5000 large capacity scanner to turn paper into electronic files [hope my $3500 scanner is sufficient], Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 [$300+, but I have that], and an Extranet [$1-5000 for your IT guy to set up IF you already have Small Business Server 2003 or later - fortunately I have that too]. Early in the presentation, they suggested an 11" x 17" color printer for charts and exhibits and a 42" color plotter to make blow ups for court, as well as a video projector.
I'll be back tomorrow, for Day Three. Hope they don't spend any time telling me how much more money I need to spend. At least I'd be boosting the economy if I upgraded everything I own. I'm glad they didn't tell me I had to have an "S-series" Mercedes, or I'd be really depressed.
Statistically, one-half of all marriages end in divorce. The other half end in death.
You could get lucky.