How the Affordable Care Act could impact divorce cases

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Couples in unhappy marriages may have an easier time divorcing

The Affordable Care Act has been in the news quite a bit recently, but one aspect of this new healthcare law that often gets overlooked is what effect it will have on couples seeking a divorce. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the ACA could end up making divorces easier for some people who would otherwise feel pressured to remain married in order to hold on to their current health insurance.

Employer-provided coverage

During a divorce, one of the most contentious issues is often the division of assets and finances. While property and joint accounts are often at the forefront of most contested divorces, health insurance is also extremely important issue for many divorcing couples.

Because most health insurance in the United States is provided by an employer, many people have coverage through their spouse's employer-provided insurance. As a result, during a divorce one of the spouses often risks losing that insurance or s/he may have to work out a deal with the former spouse to retain the coverage in exchange for a financial incentive.

Pre-existing conditions

For people who have a pre-existing condition or who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, finding employment and, therefore, health insurance has, up until now, been extremely difficult.

Under the ACA, pre-existing conditions can no longer be used to deny a person health insurance. As a result, a person with a pre-existing condition who is relying on his spouse for health insurance may no longer feel pressured to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of holding on to that coverage.

An alternative to COBRA

It should be noted that, under the existing system, a divorced spouse can still enjoy the health insurance that was previously provided by the other spouse's employer for a limited amount of time. This system is a result of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

While COBRA does help some people maintain health care coverage for which they would otherwise be ineligible, it does come with some drawbacks. The main problem with COBRA is often the cost. Former spouses have to pay for the coverage themselves and premiums can run as high as 102 percent of the original cost.

The ACA does not replace COBRA, but it does open up alternatives beyond COBRA for divorcing couples. Therefore, a divorcee will have more health insurance options if they find that COBRA coverage is too costly or will not last for as long as they need coverage.

Complications of a divorce

As the issue of healthcare shows, divorce is a complicated procedure and, although this new legislation may make it easier for some unhappily married couples to get a divorce, it does not mean that the process will be altogether painless. Dividing assets and financial responsibilities is just one of the difficult issues during a divorce case and anybody considering a divorce should seek the services of a qualified Texas family law lawyer. Such a lawyer can help guide the client through the intricacies of divorce law so that the client can seek their full share of assets after the breakup of a marriage.

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