While Roseanne Barr has traditionally been the headline maker for her show “Roseanne,” it is now Michael Fishman, who plays youngest son, D.J. Conner, who is in the news. Last year, the show fired Roseanne Barr and renamed the show “The Conners” after her racist remarks made headlines. Fishman is making headlines for a very different reason.
Fishman has been married to Jenny Briner for almost twenty years. The pair has two children, only one of which is still a minor. Now that the two have decided to end their marriage, Fishman and Briner have made it a point to remain amicable. Reportedly they went to dinner together with their children after filing for legal separation. Fishman told TMZ that he opted for legal separation because he wants to keep Briner covered under his health insurance for as long as possible.
The differences between a legal separation and a divorce can be unclear. The biggest difference is that a judgment of dissolution dissolves the marriage while legal separation still leaves the parties married. A judgment of legal separation allows the parties to file taxes as single people (26 U.S.C. §2), divide their assets and debts, address support and other issues just as they would in a dissolution action, but at the end of the action, they are still married though financially separated.
Legal separation may be chosen if one or both parties has not been resided in California or the county of filing long enough to file for divorce. It is also helpful when religious views prevent dissolving the marriage or to maintain the marriage status in order to qualify for derivative social security benefits or for military benefits. It can sometimes allow one spouse to stay on another spouse’s health insurance.
Unfortunately, Fishman’s gesture likely will not work to keep Briner insured. More and more health insurance companies are adopting provisions which end spousal coverage upon “marital separation,” which in California means a judgment of legal separation or dissolution. A quick review of the health insurance plans available through the actor’s unions reveals that they have adopted this definition.
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