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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore County Lawyer Discusses Medicaid and Divorce Rates

Written by Amar Weisman » March 31, 2017 »

Ask any group of people for a list of reasons a couple might file for divorce, and you’re likely to get familiar-sounding answers. Maybe the couple has irreconcilable differences? Maybe one spouse became violent? Or maybe a couple simply decided their love was gone? Whatever the case, the hypothesized reasons will usually stem from assumed issues in a relationship. So what would you think if we told you that Medicaid might have something to do with whether a couple stays wed or unties the knot? A report from NPR explains.

In the past few years, researchers conducted an experiment. In this study, they evaluated states that signed on to expand Medicaid versus states that did not. With Medicaid, families were thought of as a unit. If a couple had saved money for retirement and found out that one spouse had a disease that would likely require expensive medical bills, the couple would have to spend their saved money until they were poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. At that point, they would have nothing left for their retirement.

To sidestep this issue, financial advisors often advised couples to get a divorce. The sick spouse could spend his or her share of savings to qualify for Medicaid. However, the healthy spouse would still have some of the saved funds from during the marriage, ultimately leaving the couple with more than if they had stayed married.

According to their research, in states that expanded Medicaid—an expansion that did away with asset tests, thus removing the incentive to divorce in order to save assets—they saw the percentage of divorces decrease among 50 to 64-year-olds by 5%. In states that did not expand Medicaid, this was not the case.

Divorce Is No Small Matter

This is an interesting trend to note, as it reveals the varied factors involved in influencing older couples to divorce. Although this may not have been a commonly thought of reason, it certainly makes sense. After all, it is only natural for a couple to want to preserve their assets, by whatever means necessary. That said, a divorce is never an easy decision, even in an effort to protect your financial situation, so couples should think carefully before making any life-changing decisions.

With the changing political landscape, we are not yet certain of what new trends will unfold. However, we will closely monitor the divorce situation both in Maryland and across the country.

We are proud to offer services to our clients at every stage of life -- a Towson divorce lawyer at our firm is always here to help. Regardless of your reason for divorce, you can rest assured that we will help you navigate the process and stay with you, each step of the way.

So if you have questions about the best next step for you and are ready for answers, do not hesitate to contact us.