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Healthcare coverage implications of a divorce for women

According to a new study by the University of Michigan, the loss of healthcare coverage, particularly for women, following a divorce can last more than two years. The study notes that many married women have healthcare coverage through their husbands. After a divorce is finalized, women lose coverage since they no longer qualify as dependents under their spouse's health insurance policies.

Divorce places a financial burden on families and despite the financial hardships many women do not quality for public insurance options such as Medicaid. Those women who are insured through their own employer-based plans are not likely to lose coverage. But, after divorce, women have to adjust to one income or no income and may not be able to pay the high premiums of private insurance and, must strike a balance between other ordinary expenses such as mortgage or rent, food, childcare and health care premiums.

The study found that full-time work and education are important buffers to shield women from losing health insurance coverage after a divorce. However, many women work part-time and do not have coverage.

Marriage, divorce, re-marriage and other changes in life happen. In family law situations, it is important for divorcing parties to consider issues such as child support and custody, if they have children, spousal support and the fair and equitable distribution of division of property.

In Michigan, courts consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the health status and ages of the parties and the earning capacity of the parities at the time of divorce to determine if spousal support is warranted. Despite these factors and court guidelines, spousal support may be negotiable and parties can agree on an amount which is fair to both sides. An award of spousal support may help a woman pay for healthcare coverage while adjusting to life post-divorce.

Divorce is not easy but by working together, the hardship divorce brings can be eased.

Source: Red Orbit, "For Thousands of Women, Costs of Divorce Include Health Coverage," Alan McStravick, Nov. 13, 2012

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