When splitting up the marital property during a divorce, the spouses must negotiate division of real estate, cars, retirement accounts and other valuable assets. But what about health insurance?

The division of property is often the most technically challenging part of a divorce. The couple must list all their assets and liabilities, sort out any personal property from the marital property, and then negotiate a way to split the martial assets in a way that meets legal standards of fairness.

Under Massachusetts law, the division must be equitable, meaning that it doesn’t leave one party at an unfair disadvantage compared to the other. With this principle in mind, property division rarely results in a 50-50 split of the marital property. Instead, a court might demand something closer to a 65-35 split, or impose an alimony order. When the parties reach their own settlement, either through mediation or some other form of negotiation, they must reach their own conclusions on what is fair.

One factor they should not forget during these negotiations is health insurance. Many married couples are insured through one spouse’s employer. When the marriage ends, the coverage for one spouse ends. This spouse must then seek out new insurance, often at great expense. Massachusetts law requires employers to get temporary coverage through COBRA when they lose their insurance, but COBRA can be very pricey.

It’s important to consider these costs when negotiating a property division settlement. An experienced divorce attorney can help clients estimate what their expenses will look like after the divorce, so that they can work those calculations into their goals during the negotiations.