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Will the Affordable Care Act cause the divorce rate to jump?

History was made yesterday when the Affordable Care Act, otherwise referred to in the popular media as Obamacare, began its official rollout. Specifically, people here in Minnesota and across the U.S. are now able to log onto the Internet to shop for coverage at state-run health insurance exchanges offering customers multi-layered policy levels (i.e., bronze, silver, gold, platinum).

While one needn't look any further than Washington, D.C. -- where the federal government is currently in the midst of a temporary shutdown -- to see that the ACA is proving to be an incredibly divisive issue, it's worth noting not all of the coverage associated with this topic is necessarily political.

In fact, lost amid much of the reporting has been a growing discussion about the impact that the rollout of the ACA will have on divorce rates here in the U.S.

Interestingly, many legal professionals and financial experts are predicting that the ability to secure health insurance that is relatively affordable and which doesn't penalize people with pre-existing conditions will lead many more couples to finally move forward with their divorces.

Experts theorize that one of the primary reasons why so many couples -- particularly those who are older -- have pursued only legal separations or remained married despite maintaining separate residences is the cost prohibitive nature of health insurance.

"I deal a lot with collaborative divorce, which keeps it out of the courts -- and health insurance definitely comes up a lot," said one financial expert. "There's COBRA continuation coverage, but it's incredibly expensive -- so many couples decide to stay together legally and only consider formal breakups when one wants to get remarried."

In fact, experts point out that the high cost of health insurance coupled with the recent recession, which resulted in substantial losses to retirement portfolios, high unemployment and record foreclosures likely caused even more couples to reconsider their decision to call it quits.

However, experts argue that now that the economy is finally showing signs of improvement and health insurance can be purchased for reasonable rates, there is far less of an incentive for these marriages to continue their charade.

It should be very interesting to see if this theory plays out as anticipated.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about divorce or divorce alternatives, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.

Source: Financial Planning, "Divorce wave to follow Obamacare rollout?" Janice Fioravante, September 30, 2013

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