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Tom B.
Tom B., Barrister & Solicitor
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 2138
Experience:  23 years in practice
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After almost four years my divorce became final in June 2013. The

Resolved Question:

After almost four years my divorce became final in June 2013.
The divorce agreement stated that I should pay both spousal and child support, the spousal support(after an order was agreed to and documented by the court) to end May 1st 2014.

My ex also is covered comprehensively under my companies benefit plan.
Paragraph 2 of the final order states that 'The Respondent shall remain on the Applicant's benefit plan for four (4) years or until December 31st 2015 provided same is available to the Applicant, through his employment.

My HR department indicated a few months ago that once I was divorced that the spousal coverage would end unless there was a court ordered continuation of benefits.
HR also indicated that there would still have to be discussion between my company and the benefit plan provider to see if coverage would continue and at what level.

HR know of my situation but have not changed my employee records to reflect that I am now officially divorced.
I am concerned that these changes have not been made and want to inform them of the change in my status.
This puts me in somewhat of a dilemma as I'm afraid that they will end the benefit coverage for my ex even though there is a court order in place to continue coverage.
I am also afraid that disciplinary action could be taken towards myself by my company for not confirming my change in status earlier.

My ex is diabetic and requires a substantial amount of medical support/coverage and the ending of her coverage would not only be detrimental to her health (she doesn't work and can't afford coverage of her own but would probably set both my ex and myself up for another round of dealing with lawyers which neither of us can afford.

The company's benefit policy contains one definition of a dependant as "A former spouse means a person who is your divorced or ex-common-law spouse for whom insurance protection for some of the benefits available under your employer’s benefit program is mandated by court order."

Should I 1) Inform HR of the change in my status and 2) advise them of the court order mandating that coverage continues?

I know the answer to the first question but am afraid that my ex's coverage will in the end be discontinued once I talk with HR or that I will become responsible for paying the premiums presently met by my employer, which I cannot afford to do at this time.

Presently my support payments are at the maximum that can be deducted.
If the benefit coverage were to end would there be an adjustment made to the support payments to offset any benefit premiums that I may have to incur?

Does the responsibility to continue benefit coverage lie with myself even if there is a court order in place?

Thanks for your time and patience.
Customer
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Tom B. replied 1 year ago.

Tom B. :

Dear Scot:

Customer:

good evening

Tom B. :

I certainly would not be concerned about any discipline. It takes time for court orders to get processed and HR is going to want the paperwork. It is hardly a long time since June.

Tom B. :

The order states that the coverage should continue as long as it is available. It is probably true the the insurer has to be consulted as to the wording of their policy. Perhaps you have those details yourself and can read. Each underwriter will have different terms and condictions.

Customer:

I have the certificate of divorce - should I provide that to my employer or should that come from the court?

Tom B. :

conditions :)

Tom B. :

If you have the certificate, great. But, you really need a copy of the order that specifies that specific term. That should motivate them because if it does not work out, there could be a trip back to the judge.....

Customer:

in my question the definition of a dependant was taken directly from the insurers handbook

Tom B. :

The judge is assuming the availability of this coverage. There is no apparent consequence to you if that coverage is not available. However, you obviously want that coverage for her and that is good on you. But, it is all about the fine print on the policy.

Customer:

I also have the order that specifies the term - ie: until december 2015 as long as I am in the employment of the company

Tom B. :

The order is more important to HR than the certificate.

Customer:

so, should I give HR a copy of the order and basically let things fall where they may?

Tom B. :

Again, the time delay is of no consequence as far as court proceedings are concerned.

Tom B. :

Yes. The first step is to give them the order and then follow up in some reasonable time. With the order, you can ask that tax being deducted from you pay be reduced for the time support is payable should you wish.

Tom B. :

If it comes back there is no coverage, then you may want to secure a private plan for her but at this time, you are not required to do so. The order contemplates the possibility that the coverage is not available. If it is not, you could walk away from the issue if you wanted to.

Tom B. :

Is there any requirement in the order to return to court if something goes sidewaysÉ

Customer:

No - there's nothing in the order to return to court.

Customer:

It's basically that my ex is counting on this coverage continuing - if that doesn't happen then I'm certain that she would want to go back to court which neither of us want or can afford.

Tom B. :

So, the issue is your humanitarian instinct to assist her if you can. If there is no coverage, you could enter into a written agreement to somehow provide it privately. You need a written agreement or court order that provides any coverage you arrange privately is an increase in spousal support. Only then are any payments tax deductible for you.

Tom B. :

The first step is to see what happens with the employer`s coverage and to not assume now that there is none. Having said that, what type of coverage does she needÉ

Tom B. :

Is this a union job

Customer:

As stated she is diabetic and has an insulin pump. The supplies for that and her other medication are expensive. My own position is non-union.

Tom B. :

Yes, I know as I am diabetic as well. If she is on a small income she may be able to get some financial assistance from the province.

Customer:

Should the coverage be terminated am I obliged/responsible for finding other coverage for her. I think you addressed this earlier but I just wanted clarification on the point.

Tom B. :

However, from what you tell me (and what HR has said if vague) she should be covered. At this stage, on what you have provided me, you do not have a legal obligation to solve the issue. The court apparently ordered that she remain on benefits only if those benefits are available.

Customer:

She has tried to obtain assistance from the 'ADP'?? program but cannot as she is covered by the insurance company. the two organizations make it difficult to get a straight answer :)

Tom B. :

Yes it may take some time to figure things out and there may be companies attempting to avoid paying. But, on your facts, you have done all you need to do by giving your HR the order.

Tom B. :

Court orders have a habit of getting better answers because they may be called upon to explain.

Customer:

okay - thank you Tom for your time and consideration of my questions, your insight is much appreciated.

Tom B. :

I am pleased you are trying to help her but your legal responsibilities are only as described in the order. It is not your problem if they refuse coverage. It could be their problem if the court wants to know why.

Customer:

Again. thank you so much for your time and advice. I'll close the question by completing the rating requirement and complete the transaction.

Tom B. :

Thank you. I would be pleased to serve you again.

Tom B. :

Tom

Customer:

Regards

Customer:

Alan

Tom B., Barrister & Solicitor
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 2138
Experience: 23 years in practice
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