JLJ Family Law » Posts in 'Women' category

How will Health Care Reform impact divorcing women

By Jody L Johnson of JLJ Family Law

Health Insurance for Divorced Women

Most women going through divorce are covered as a dependent on their husband’s health insurance; therefore, it is important to be aware of your options for coverage post-divorce.

1.         COBRA

COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a federal mandated law that was designed to protect employees and their families from losing coverage as a result of divorce, death, job loss or other specified circumstances.  If your spouse’s coverage is through a company that employs at least 20 people, then you are eligible for coverage for up to 36 months post divorce.  Unless you and your spouse agree otherwise, you will be responsible for payment of the premiums which can unfortunately be significant.  As a result, many view COBRA coverage as a stop-gap option until better coverage is available.  Under COBRA, you do not continue as a dependent on the policy.  Instead, you are offered individual coverage similar to what you had as a dependent. It is fraudulent to remain as a dependent post-divorce.  It is possible to negotiate for your spouse to pay some or all of the cost of COBRA coverage either as part of the financial settlement or as a form of alimony.

2.         Current Employer

If you obtain employment and your employer offers an affordable health plan, then it is recommended that you look into enrolling in the plan.  Unfortunately, many divorced women who seek employment after divorce, find that employers either don’t offer insurance benefits or don’t offer enough hours to qualify to enroll in the health insurance program.

3.         Individual Health Plans

An individual policy may be your best or only option in some situations.  It is important to weigh the cost of the policy against the benefits and perceived need of coverage.  There are policies that are less costly for healthy individuals that basically insure against catastrophic health concerns. Essentially you would self-insure for everything else.   Try to negotiate for the cost of coverage to be factored into the settlement, especially if your cost will be much greater than your spouses cost.

What is the impact of the new Health Care Reform legislation?

The full impact is yet to be seen.  However, one important cornerstone of the new legislation that will significantly benefit divorcing women is the ability to obtain health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.  It is not uncommon for women of divorce to have one or more pre-existing conditions.  Those conditions can either prevent them entirely from obtaining insurance, or preventing them from obtaining insurance for the condition they most need it for.  The new legislation is designed to eliminate this impediment.  For more information about how the new legislation may affect you, please refer to http://bit.ly/az5LM7

For additional answers to questions about health insurance and divorce, please refer to http://bit.ly/bu36aW

For more information on family law solutions, visit www.jljfamilylaw.com

Good Communication Starts With Listening

by Nancy Foster

Many of us think that communication is talking – and talk we do. We interrupt, advise, reassure, judge, analyze, criticize, argue, moralize, threaten, divert, diagnose, etc., etc. But, good communication requires good listening as well as talking. In fact, since we have two ears and only one mouth, listening just might be the more important skill. However, we receive almost no training in good listening and usually do not realize that really “hearing” someone is not a passive activity.

To be a good listener, we must, first, pay attention. The remainder of this article will focus on “attending” skills. The next article will discuss how to listen “actively” rather than passively.

When you are speaking and someone is not paying attention, how do you feel? Annoyed, frustrated, discounted, rejected, anxious or angry? Such feelings usually make communication more difficult. So how can we show someone who is speaking that we really are paying attention to them? We can do this both nonverbally and verbally.

Research shows that about 85% of what we communicate is nonverbal. This includes our posture, physical movements, eye contact and our psychological presence. So, when someone is speaking to you, is your posture inclined toward the speaker, so as to invite and encourage expression? Or is your back turned or your arms or legs tightly crossed, which discourages and cuts off involvement? Are you fidgeting or otherwise distracting the speaker or yourself? Are you making good eye contact with the person? By looking at and observing the speaker, not only will the speaker feel “attended” to, you will learn more about what is really important to him or her. Finally, we cannot pretend to pay attention by employing these physical techniques without also being psychologically present. We can’t fake interest. The speaker will know if our hearts and minds are not really there.

Verbal ways of showing that we are paying attention include

1. an open invitation to talk,

2. using one or two words to encourage talking to continue,

3. asking open-ended questions and

4. knowing when to be silent.

For example, “You look like something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?” describes a person’s body language followed by an open invitation to talk. It is important to silently allow the person time to decide whether to talk and what to talk about. If someone chooses not to accept the invitation, don’t try to force them. Back off and respect their privacy.

Brief responses to encourage continued talking include “mm-hmmm,” “I see,” “Oh?” “Right,” “And?” “Go on,” “Tell me more,” etc. These don’t imply either agreement or disagreement. They simply mean “Yes, I hear you – please go on.”

A good listener uses questions sparingly because questions tend to focus the conversation on the questioner’s perspective and concerns and can derail the focus of the speaker. Work on asking fewer questions, and when you do, ask “open-ended” questions. Compare “Did you call the

police?” to “What did you do?” Or, “Do you feel anxious about the meeting tomorrow?” to “How do you feel about the meeting tomorrow?” An open-ended question is like an essay question which allows the speaker, rather than the questioner, to lead the conversation and clarify his or her own concerns. A closed question is like a true/false question and often suggests or narrows the agenda.

Finally, knowing when to be silent can be a powerful communication tool. Silence allows the speaker to become aware of his or her own feelings, to explore more deeply and to proceed at his or her own pace. Because many listeners become self-conscious with silence, they feel the need to “break” it by talking or asking questions. Unfortunately, this usually disrupts and derails the speaker. How can silence be handled? Pay attention to the body posture of the speaker and “listen” to what it says to you. Try to imagine what the speaker might be feeling, consider various ways that you might respond, and then choose the most helpful response.

“Holidays and Divorce – Coping When You’re Home Alone for the Holidays”

Author: WomansDivorce.com

If you share holidays with your ex, you may be facing a holiday alone this season without your child. It can be difficult to be separated from your child, but you can get through the holiday with these guidelines:

Talk to your child - Make sure your child understands where he or she will be spending the holiday. Mark the plans on a calendar so that the schedule is solid in your child’s eyes. Explain to your child that you will miss him or her while he/she is with the other parent on the holiday, but point out that you’re happy that he/she will be having fun and want him/her to have a good time. While it’s important to be honest with your child, it is equally important that you not burden him or her with the responsibility for your happiness. Don’t tell your child that you will be miserable, lonely, in tears or completely depressed while he or she is with the other parent. It’s ok to say you will miss him or her, but follow this statement with reassurances that you’ll be together again soon.

Make plans with your child - Plan out with your child when you will celebrate the holiday together. It’s not important what you do or when you do it, as long as you plan a way for you and your child to celebrate the holiday together in some way the next time you are together. This will help your child feel confident that both parents are truly a part of his or her life and will give you something to plan for and look forward to.

Consider holidays together - Some parents find that in the first few years after a divorce, it works best if they spend important holidays together with their child (for example, having the non-custodial parent come over to spend Christmas morning with the custodial parent and child). If you think this option would work for you, try it.

Touch base - Plan to have some kind of contact with your child on the holiday itself. Call him or her on the phone or even to stop by for a quick hug and kiss on the other parent’s front porch (if you and the other parent agree this will not make your child upset). Making contact with your child on the holiday itself will not only help your child cope, but will help ease your own feelings of loneliness.

Make plans for yourself - The key to getting through a major holiday without your child is to plan ahead for it. If your family celebrates together for this holiday, get involved in planning the event and look forward to spending the day with them. Plan a get together with friends or spend the day wrapping gifts for your child. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you plan something out.

Think about what you want - Give some thought to what you really want to get out of this holiday. Are there things you have always wanted to do, but have never been able to? Maybe you’ve always wanted to go to a football game on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps you always dreamed of caroling on Christmas Eve or hoped to host a Kwanzaa feast. Now is your chance to fulfill your holiday wish list.

Filling Alone Time - Even if you’ll be attending a party or hosting some kind of event, there will be some time on the holiday when you will be alone and if you have no plans, the day may loom long and empty before you. Take some time before the day comes around to plan out some things you can do on your own. Look around your community for events celebrating the holiday – church services, community get-togethers, civic events, single parent gatherings and so on. Don’t be afraid to go alone – there are a lot of other parents who are also alone on holidays.

If your day still looks wide open, make a list of things you can do just by yourself. These don’t have to be earth-shattering, spectacular plans. Anything that makes you happy and gives you something to do works. Try some of these suggestions:

- take a long walk alone

- buy a special meal to have alone at home

- cook a special meal for yourself

- go to a movie

- read a good book

- rent videos

- give yourself a home beauty treatment

- buy yourself something you’ve been wanting and wrap it up for yourself to unwrap

- get a big project done around the house, such as painting or wallpapering

- organize your photographs or make scrapbooks

- clean out your closets or basement

- get a big project done for work

- give some time to a local charity

- stay in bed all day

- go away for the day or the weekend to someplace you’ve always wanted to visit

- chat online with other parents who are alone

- create something special to surprise your child (cookies, a mural, a fort in the backyard)

- start a new hobby (start knitting, hit some golf balls, make wreaths, build model airplanes)

The key to remember is that you can get through a holiday alone and that real holidays with your child happen when you make them.

As seen on WomansDivorce.com

For information on Family Law Solutions, visit www.aj-familylaw.com