When thinking of reasons a couple decides to divorce, irreconcilable differences, adultery, or other serious conflicts come to mind. However, there are marriages where a couple wants to stay together, but the prohibitive cost of healthcare may warrant seeking a medical divorce due to one spouse’s illness. Jointly held assets or the healthy spouse’s income can affect the ability to acquire or maintain insurance to cover treatments or long term care for the ailing spouse. In these cases, some couples find themselves in this very troubling predicament and face the difficult choice of considering a medical divorce.
Many people going through a serious illness, even with private health insurance, may find themselves cut off when they need coverage the most. Their insurance carrier may also deny their necessary treatments or surgeries. They may then look to Medicaid as a way to gain coverage. That’s when being married can be a financial liability, as eligibility is based on household income. Medicaid has income caps that can make it impossible for the ailing spouse to obtain or maintain Medicaid insurance coverage. In order to reduce the household income limit, the couple may be forced to consider a medical divorce.
It’s not only a spousal illness that can affect a marriage. In the case of a child with disabilities, the cost of care can be prohibitive, and a married couple qualifies for less covered care than a single parent. By obtaining a medical, or on paper only, divorce, a family can stay afloat and care for their child. There are also cases where a sudden illness or accident may occur, which may put an entire family in a predicament of scrambling to afford care for treatments, severe injuries, and long rehab times.
In a medical divorce, the majority of assets are transferred to the healthy spouse, not to have them counted as part of the income or assets of the ill spouse. A medical divorce does not mean the couple actually splits up. They intend to continue their relationship but separate their finances as much as possible. The rising cost of both healthcare and long term care options means this crisis can disproportionately affect elderly couples. When faced with the prospect of going bankrupt due to medical bills or seeking a medical divorce, the latter choice may be the necessary one.
If you find yourself facing a spouse’s or child’s health crisis and begin to struggle to financially cover their care, exploring your options with a compassionate, knowledgeable family law attorney is the best place to start. If you reside in Georgia in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette county, Family Matters Law Group is here for you. We understand that even considering the idea of divorce when you’re happily married is troubling. We approach your issues with the utmost respect and sensitivity. Contact us to schedule a consultation so we can help you through this difficult time.