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Gray divorce and the changes the Affordable Care Act could bring

Any of our Georgia readers who follow this blog will know that gray divorce, or divorce over the age of 50, is up. There are likely many people in Atlanta who are seeing long-time couples divorcing after 20, 30 or more years together. At the same time, divorce at such an age can be a financial burden on some people, especially if they will lose their health insurance because of the divorce. Some couples have worked around that through the use of unique family law tools that allow them to go their separate ways while still keeping both spouses able to insure themselves.

One of the easiest ways to do this is through legal separation. Instead of divorcing, a couple can separate, which provides much of the same benefits of divorce, including division of debts and property, but without the actual end of the marriage (and, ostensibly, the end of health insurance). Some employers have learned of this work-around, however, and will cut off insurance for separated couples, too.

Another way of getting around a lack of health insurance is to incorporate the cost of purchasing private health insurance into alimony costs. Say, for example, that an Atlanta woman had health insurance through her employer, but her husband relied on her to insure him because his work didn't offer insurance. When they divorce, he may ask for spousal support to cover his insurance premiums.

With the upcoming start to the Affordable Care Act, however, there could be some changes. First, more people may eschew separation, knowing that they can get lower-cost insurance through the state of Georgia if they lose it in the divorce. Moreover, alimony costs could go down, as state-run insurance will likely be less than the cost of private insurance. How the Affordable Care Act will ultimately play itself out, however, remains to be seen.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Obamacare could ease divorce’s financial sting," Elizabeth O'Brien, Sept. 25, 2013

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Marietta, GA 30060

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