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RESOURCES - SINGLE AND DIVORCING PARENTS

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Melissa F. Brown

Jeanne: Thank you for writing about the important topic of qualifying events in divorce cases that may trigger ERISA and cause the clock to tick on when insurance coverage may end. I disagree with one aspect of your column. I wrote an article about COBRA, http://scdivorcelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Cobra-Do-Not-Let-It-Bite-You-or-Your-Client-00027431.PDF, and my research indicates that legal separations and divorces are triggering events but orders of separate maintenance are a loophole. SC does not have legal separations so this loophole is valuable to SC litigants who obtain an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support. While all financial and child related issues in their marriages are resolved, they remain married and can remain on their spouse's insurance and ERISA's triggering events are not triggered. If you have discovered law to the contrary, please let me know because I will update my article.

Thanks!
Melissa

Jeanne M Hannah

Melissa, I am relying upon federal law. ERISA trumps state law. I believe that the federal resources cited above are clear on what constitutes a qualifying event per ERISA.

In Michigan, employers have often overlooked this ERISA requirement. My point was -- we cannot continue to rely upon this since insurers are becoming even more proactive about investigating to avoid payment of catastrophic claims.

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