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When spouses divorce the ones that they love

The end of a Maryland marriage often falls along predictable lines. Some couples divorce after one spouse has an affair or other indiscretion. Others find that they hold fundamentally different ideas about how to live their lives. Many simply grow apart over time, and feel that they would be happier as singles. For some, however, the decision to divorce is a powerful display of love.

This unusual divorce perspective can be exemplified by a case in which one spouse has a serious medical condition requiring long-term care. Medical bills and related expenses can quickly destroy a couple’s finances, and those who are at or nearing retirement can risk losing everything that they have worked hard to achieve. Faced with looming financial devastation and still unable to meet the medical needs of one spouse, some couples choose to divorce in order to preserve assets and gain assistance with medical care.

Consider, for example, a couple who owns their own home and has saved a modest amount for retirement. Should one spouse fall ill and require residential medical care, those assets would need to be depleted before that individual would qualify for Medicaid. Once Medicaid coverage kicks in, the ailing spouse will be guaranteed health care for the rest of his or her life. However, by that point, the couple’s hard-earned resources may have been drastically reduced or even exhausted, leaving the other spouse struggling to get by.

In such cases, spouses may consider filing for divorce in order to divide their assets in a way that protects the financial stability of both parties. The resulting property division structure could allow the spouse who requires long-term care to be able to qualify for Medicaid, while the other spouse retains the majority of marital assets. The bonds between the spouses will endure, and the healthy spouse can continue to direct the course of treatment for his or her loved one. While this is certainly an unusual path toward divorce, it is one that can make a world of difference for the financial stability of a Maryland couple facing an acute medical need.

Source: Forbes, "Divorce Due To Medical Bills? Sometimes It Makes Sense", Eve Kaplan, Aug. 21, 2014

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