Can an employerdeny coverage for a stepchild if the stepfather doesn’t have legal custody?

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Can an employerdeny coverage for a stepchild if the stepfather doesn’t have legal custody?

My daughter lives with me and my husband and I have legal custody of my daughter. We claim her on our taxes as a dependent but my husband’s company is denying covering her on the basis he doesn’t have legal custody of her. Can they do this?

Asked on January 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortuntately, this is probably something they can do. I don't believe that Michigan law requires coverage of step children (most states don't). That being the case, whether a policy will cover step children depends on the terms of the policy itself. Most policies, however, will limit "family" coverage to relationships of blood or law--e.g. biological or legally adopted children. No matter how emotionally powerful and valid the step child relationship, it is not a relationship recognized by the law in many states for many purposes; for example, step children do not inherit the same way biological children do. In this case, step children are often not treated the same for health insurance, and this is legal.


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