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Medicaid may have an influence on divorce rates

A recent report suggests that the long-term care required by older Massachusetts residents may be costly. According to one estimate, some individuals may be paying as much as $83,000 each year if they are seeking treatment in a skilled nursing facility. Furthermore, approximately 70 percent of individuals who are older than 65 will require some form of long-term care. The report goes on to state that these figures and Medicaid might be a driving force for an increase in divorce.

Suggesting that approximately 66 percent of the aggregate cost of long-term care is covered by Medicaid, the report states that many individuals seek financial help from Medicaid long-term care benefits. These funds may be used to cover home health services or room and board for some individuals over the age of 21. Qualifying requires that the person meet federal guidelines on poverty. Individuals may also spend down their income in an attempt to qualify.

Based on a five-year look back period and a recovery process that Medicaid might initiate against a person's estate after they pass away, the report argues that the rules are promoting divorce. It suggests that if a couple is still married, the assets of the partner who is not receiving benefits are not protected unless they are no longer living together. However, if the couple divorces, they are allowed to live together, and the non-receiving party's assets are not subject to estate recovery.

As this information shows, there may be some financial benefits to seeking a divorce in cases where a couple may still have an amicable relationship. However, the process of ending a marriage might still be complicated and may result in disputes over contentious issues, such as property division and child custody. Those who might be initiating divorce proceedings might benefit from having an attorney represent them throughout the process.

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