Our posts last week focused on legal separation as an alternative or precursor to divorce. While many couples use separation as a way to gain breathing room and figure out if divorce is necessary, we mentioned that some people opt for legal separation because divorce is not an option.
This could be due to religious or cultural beliefs that stigmatize divorce. But it could also be due to a shared marital benefit that one spouse cannot afford to lose, such as health insurance. In a recent article on the Huffington Post, a woman named Christine Blackburn shared her own story of choosing legal separation for insurance reasons.
Blackburn explains that she is a cancer survivor and was therefore branded with the “pre-existing condition” label. When she and her husband decided several years ago that their relationship was no longer working, they apparently decided to stay “married but amicably separated” in order for her to maintain access to affordable health insurance coverage through her husband’s employer.
This arrangement seemed to work for several years. According to the article, Blackburn’s husband eventually broke the bad news that his insurance coverage was also ending and that she’d need to find an alternative. Thankfully, she says she has been able to obtain affordable coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. She now plans to proceed with the divorce.
A legal separation arrangement like this one is not right for every couple and may not always be possible. But legal separation can serve many important functions, can offer legal protections during an uncertain time and is typically much less expensive/difficult than divorce.
If you’re considering legal separation, please consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Isn’t Over Until The Health Insurance Is Gone,” Christine Blackburn, April 7, 2015