When Health Care Costs Promote DivorceMarybeth Sampsel
The New York Times ran an article discussing a happily married couple who divorced to avoid financial ruin. Facing mounting health care costs from the husband’s degenerative illness, the couple made a practical choice to save some assets by ending their marriage. The husband has early-onset dementia, with a prognosis of degenerative mental function until he will ultimately need to be institutionalized. On the advice of a social worker, his hospital, and a divorce lawyer, his wife filed for divorce. Instead of losing all their join and separate assets as his health care costs gradually consume all available assets, she will be able to protect some of them. The wife still lives with her former husband, but legally she is no longer responsible for his medical bills.
I have not heard of this happening in Montana, but it is not beyond imagination. With health care costs sky-rocketing, it may be only a matter of time before Montana couples face the impossible choice described above. This serves as a good reminder that while divorce is generally the result of an unhappy marriage, it is a legal tool with many different uses.