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Divorces delayed by health care uncertainty

Some Illinois couples may be postponing their divorces because of uncertainty about health care. It is not yet clear how health care may change and whether people will still be able to access it after they divorce. In 2012, prior to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, one study reported that about 115,000 women lost private health care after divorce. While the Senate voted on July 28 to not repeal the Affordable Care Act, it is still uncertain what changes might be ahead regarding health insurance.

Some couples who postponed their divorce created a postnuptial agreement to separate property. Others completed divorce paperwork but did not file it. A legal separation is no longer an option as it once was since most companies do not cover separated non-employee spouses.

Another reason couples may delay divorce is if one person is in treatment for an illness. For example, if one person in a couple is going through chemotherapy, the couple may remain married so the ill person's treatment is not disrupted if there is a shift in insurance coverage.

Health care is one of several factors a couple getting a divorce must consider. There could be a number of financial challenges. After a divorce, a person's standard of living may drop. Maintaining two separate households is usually more costly than one. If only one spouse has worked outside the home, that person may struggle to pay alimony and child support while the other may struggle to live on those payments. It is also important for people to be mindful about finances in the long term and avoid making emotional decisions during the divorce.

Source: PBS, "Senate defeats 'skinny repeal' of Affordable Care Act, sending health care reform back to committee", Erica R. Hendry, July 28, 2017

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