Nancy L. Sponseller

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The impact of ACA on divorce settlements

On behalf of Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller posted on Monday, March 10, 2014.

Ohio residents may be interested to know how changes in health insurance availability and affordability driven by the Affordable Care Act have impacted divorce. In the not too recent past, health care was obtained, for the most part, through one’s employer, and both spouses would be covered under one policy. Many couples chose not to divorce in order for both spouses to continue having access to health care. This led to many unsatisfying marriages. Individuals who had been out of the work force for some time or who had preexisting conditions had little chance of being employed, minimizing their ability to become insured. Hence, remaining married became a way to stay insured.

When divorce was inevitable, insurance coverage was often a significant part of the divorce agreement. On occasion, spouses would use it as a tool to lower alimony or the percentage of marital assets. Today, this sort of negotiation is almost not necessary.

An unemployed or underemployed spouse no longer has to worry about preexisting conditions being an obstacle anymore. After a divorce in the pre-ACA era, uninsured spouses were covered by a government program called COBRA, but their coverage only lasted 36 months. These ex-spouses now can choose from several options offered on the health insurance marketplace after COBRA runs out. This allows divorcing spouses to divide marital assets and negotiate alimony without the encumbrance of health care thus assuring property division is equitably distributed.

In Ohio, marital assets are divided according to a system of equitable distribution. Factors that are considered include the length of the marriage and the financial assets and liabilities mutually owned and owed. After a monetary value is assigned, the assets are divided. Alimony is based on the calculated need a spouse has for sustenance and support until they can become self-sufficient. No longer, in most cases, will insurance cause a spouse to delay divorce nor will it foster inequitable division of assets or decreased alimony.

Source: Philly.com, “Insurance no longer may hinder divorce“, Robert Calandra, March 03, 2014