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Uncertainty over healthcare may be impacting divorce petitions

California residents are likely aware that healthcare has become a contentious political issue in recent months, and a growing number of analysts say that uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act has prompted some couples to put off seeking a divorce. It was once a common practice for couples with concerns over health insurance to separate rather than divorce, but this now happens rarely as employers generally no longer provide coverage to legally separated spouses.

Research suggests that the uncertainty about the future of healthcare affects wives more than it does husbands. A 2012 study from the University of Michigan revealed that going through a divorce causes about 115,000 American women to lose their health insurance coverage each year. The United States is the only developed country where healthcare is tied to marital status and employment, and a possible ACA repeal without a suitable replacement has many spouses worried according to legal and financial experts.

These concerns are especially pressing when spouses have preexisting conditions that require prolonged and costly medical treatment. Insurance companies have objected to provisions of the ACA that require them to extend coverage to already sick individuals, but polls suggest that the public would react angrily to a revised healthcare law that does not include such a provision. Congress is struggling to find a middle ground that satisfies the insurance sector while giving the public what it wants, and many couples are waiting to see how this political debate unfolds before deciding whether or not to divorce.

It can be difficult for couples to stay together for pragmatic reasons when they no longer truly care for one another. However, experienced family law attorneys could urge them to view such situations as opportunities to address thorny issues while cooler heads prevail. Discussions over alimony and spousal support can develop into protracted legal disputes during divorce cases, but spouses who have entered into postnuptial agreements may be able to avoid costly and public court battles.