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Divorce frequently threatens women's health care

For married couples in need of a legal separation, divorce can offer a new lease on life. However, the settlement process that establishes the terms of a divorce, including child custody, property division, and support payments like alimony frequently proves to be complicated and contentious. As more than a million American couples divorce each year, foresight and preparation ahead of the litigation process is crucial.

Often the allocation of property and parenting duties takes center stage in divorce negotiations. While these points of contention are undoubtedly important, the matter of health insurance should be paid close attention to as well, especially given that most married couples share healthcare under one spouse's benefits plan. Now, a new study shows that women from Dallas to Detroit are increasingly at risk of losing their health insurance following a divorce.

The study, which comes from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, notes that each year roughly 115,000 women lose access to health care following a divorce. These women no longer qualify as dependents under the policies of their former spouses and may be unable to either pay for private insurance or fall back on low-income government safety-nets.

The study noted that recently divorced women may go without adequate coverage for as many as two years or even more.

While measures in the Affordable Care Act may remedy this problem in the future, researchers asserted that "the current health care and insurance system in the U.S. is inadequate for a population in which multiple marital and job changes over the life course are not uncommon."

Although the process has the potential to put future health care at risk, divorce should always be explored as a positive option whenever a marriage has become unsalvageable. Contacting a family law attorney early on in the separation might secure health benefits long after litigation has ended.

Source: red Orbit, "For Thousands of Women, Costs of Divorce Include Health Coverage," Alan McStravick, Nov. 13, 2012

  • Our firm can help separating spouses arrive at an agreement that keeps health care secure. For more information, contact our Dallas family law page.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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