Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Obamacare and healthcare cost may impact alimony payments

Many Worcester readers may have heard about the study released last year that reported that many women lose healthcare insurance every year due to divorce. This may not be surprising because many households consist of women who are covered by their husband's employment health benefits and divorce may cause them to lose coverage. The cost of healthcare can particularly impact so-called gray divorces (divorces between spouses 50 and above). This factor may also bring financial strain to gray divorces, particularly to non-wage earners or to the spouse who earns less money.

In contrast, relief may be on the way as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into full effect at the beginning of the year. According to sources, Obamacare may allow the non-working spouse to avoid worrying about healthcare costs due to lower costs of health insurance coverage and financial assistance from the government. Experts noted, however, that the ACA may impact spousal support calculations in the event of a divorce. Together with other factors, health insurance costs are a factor in determining the amount of alimony that will be paid.

The connection between alimony, healthcare costs and Obamacare may demonstrate how one issue can impact the other. The complexity of these overlapping issues can create disputes along the way during the divorce process. Regardless, discussing the impact of new laws in alimony determination or modification may prove vital while resolving a divorce settlement or post-divorce modification.

Healthcare is commonly viewed as an essential part of life. Ending a marriage may, however, impact the accessibility of health insurance to a divorcing spouse. Fortunately, considering the healthcare costs in the alimony calculation may account for healthcare costs, as well as limit the potentially unfair economic impact of divorce.

Source: Marketwatch, "Obamacare could ease divorce's financial sting" Elizabeth O'Brien, Sept. 25, 2013

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