POSTNUPS FOR HEALTHCARE COST MANAGEMENT
Managing Your Healthcare Costs with a Postnuptial Agreement
Many people misunderstand what prenuptial agreements are all about – and forget that they can always enter into a similar agreement after marriage – an agreement knows as a postnuptial agreement.
The fact is that these contractual agreements are not used to bilk divorcing spouses out of what is rightfully theirs (as they are often depicted in films and on TV) but are, instead, legal contracts that help guide how a divorce or separation will proceed. It’s important to note that neither a prenuptial agreement nor a postnuptial agreement can include any terms that the court would deem illegal or unfair. Ultimately, both prenup and postnup agreements can serve a wide variety of purposes that include managing one’s healthcare costs.
If you are married and concerned about your healthcare coverage, an experienced florida postnuptial attorney can help you draft and execute a postnuptial agreement that will protect your rights.
Healthcare Cost Management
If you or your spouse has considerable healthcare needs, such as those related to ongoing treatment for a serious disease like cancer and/or those related to a disability, you need to maintain your health insurance. Healthcare coverage is often purchased through the other spouse’s insurance policy (via his or her work) and, as such, is generally quite reasonable in terms of cost.
A divorce would mean that a spouse with significant healthcare needs could be left out in the cold financially. The fact is that a disability or serious illness typically translates to unemployment and to astronomical insurance costs (if the in-need spouse can find adequate coverage, to begin with). In other words, the financial effects of a divorce may simply be too costly to address – both in terms of one spouse’s financial needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay (generally in the form of alimony). This is where a postnuptial agreement can help.
Staying Married in Legal Name Alone
The healthcare management scenario described above is a serious financial conundrum that must be carefully addressed, and a postnuptial agreement can provide this opportunity. In fact, a postnuptial agreement can address any matter that relates to divorce other than child custody concerns (including child support – unless the terms exceed the state’s guidelines). This means that a postnuptial agreement can allow a couple to hammer out terms that address their financial circumstances moving forward into separate lives while they remain married in the eyes of the law – allowing both spouses to maintain health insurance. In situations in which one spouse will not be able to afford necessary health insurance in the event of a divorce, a postnup offers a lifeline for those couples who’ve made the difficult decision that their marriage is over.
Florida and Legal Separations
The State of Florida does not recognize legal separations, which only serves to elevate the important role that a postnuptial agreement can play. In fact, a postnuptial agreement can amount to the legal equivalent of a separation and can directly address all of the same necessary terms.
Addressing the Terms
If you and your spouse are separating rather than divorcing due to healthcare cost management needs, your postnup will focus on those terms that relate to your ongoing finances, which include the division of your marital property. Consider the following:
- Marital property is that property that you and your spouse acquired together over the course of your marriage. Typically, those assets that you bring into your marriage with you – and that you keep separate throughout – will remain separate property.
- Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that, upon divorce, your marital property must be divided between the two of you in a manner that is considered fair given the circumstances involved.
- Because you will continue to be legally married, any assets that either of you procures during your separation will remain marital property, but this matter can be addressed in the postnuptial agreement, which can help keep your future personal assets separate.
- Your postnup can also define who will remain in the family home (or if one of you will remain in the family home and how that spouse will continue to afford it). Often, the family home is the most significant investment a couple owns, and while this matter can quickly become complicated, a dedicated postnup attorney can help you craft terms that support your rights and best interests.
- There are certain circumstances that tend to complicate postnuptial concerns related to the division of marital property, and these can include high assets, owning multiple properties, and/or owning a business. Such concerns must be carefully addressed to ensure that you obtain a just division of marital property.
Postnuptial agreements are notoriously complicated and, in order to ensure that yours is legally sound, you need an attorney whose work focuses on these challenging matters in your corner.
Many divorces and separations proceed without alimony, which is also known as spousal maintenance in Florida. Sometimes, however, alimony is a very important tool for helping to balance the financial effects of a divorce or separation between both spouses. Further, if your separation is predicated on one of you needing ongoing healthcare cost management, it likely means that the in-need spouse won’t be capable of financially supporting himself or herself post-separation (otherwise, personal healthcare coverage via employment would likely be available). In such a situation, alimony can be an important element of your postnuptial agreement. Alimony is based on one spouse’s financial need in relation to the other spouse’s ability to help assuage that need. When one spouse is too ill to work, is facing a serious health battle ahead, or has a disability, alimony becomes a viable financial response.