Articles Posted in Pre-Divorce

Spousal Refusal
In the context of healthcare and elder law, “spousal refusal” occurs when a healthy spouse (in this case referred to as the “community spouse”) refuses to pay for the healthcare expenses incurred by their unwell spouse. Generally, married spouses are obliged to financially contribute to the healthcare costs of their spouses, including nursing home costs.A spouse facing spousal refusal may fill out a form with Medicaid stating their spouse is refusing to contribute. Medicaid will then seek contribution or reimbursement from the “community spouse.”

In response to the often tight finances of the elderly, the federal government passed the Spousal Refusal law, which protects the community spouse from extraordinarily burdensome expenses, which may severely endanger the community spouse’s finances. In such cases, this law allows the ill spouse Medicaid access, and permits Medicaid to later seek reimbursement from the community spouse’s estate after his or her death. This methodology has generally been quite effective for couples facing significant healthcare costs in that it protects the couple’s assets, provides for the ill spouse, and gives reimbursement to Medicaid.

Dangerous Legislation
Currently pending in Florida’s House and Senate are two bills (HB 1323 and SB 1748) which would force the ill spouse to “cooperate” with Medicaid in seeking reimbursement from the refusing spouse. If the ill spouse is incapable of cooperating due to the nature of their illness, the ill spouse’s agent would be required to cooperate against the community spouse. Cooperation, although not yet defined, may include filing documents or testifying alongside Medicaid against the community spouse.

Certain amendments are being proposed by elder advocate associations such as the AARP and the Florida Department of Children and Families, which are attempting to move the focus off of mandated cooperation by striking sections and shifting the focus to targeting higher income individuals who are abusing the concept of Spousal Refusal. The purpose of the legislation should not be to make certain elders indigent, but rather to ensure that ineligible individuals cannot hide assets.

Without such amendments, the proposed legislation could have serious implications for elderly married couples. People who have been married for decades could begin considering divorce to separate property so that the ill spouse can continue to receive their much needed Medicaid, and the community spouse can pay family bills. Further, oftentimes when an elderly individual becomes too ill to oversee their affairs they appoint a child. If agents of ill individuals are legally forced to cooperate in seeking contribution from the community spouse, you will see houses divided and individuals compelled to speak against their parent or grandparent’s financial interest.
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Middle-class women tend to be the most affected by a divorce, in terms of health insurance coverage. A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior at the end of 2012 found that over 100,000 women annually lose their private health insurance as a result of divorce. And unfortunately, the middle class tends to suffer the most as a result of their income being too high for public assistance but too low to have coverage outside of their ex-spouse’s company offered insurance. The age group most severely impacted is 40-60. This group is under the Medicare age requirement, and in many cases relies on their spouse’s health plan.

On some occasions even a spouse with insurance through an employer may elect to unenroll for a period of time to cover new daily increased costs of living single. Research has shown that a divorce typically has a severely negative effect on most women’s income and relative purchase power. A married couple has numerous cost and tax advantages not as often offered to single counterparts.

The ironic part of this is all is that happily married people tend to be healthier too. However, according to a study published in Psychology Today, a happy single person is far better off than a unhappy married one.
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Many divorce lawyers in Fort Lauderdale often wonder why long term marriages with history and commitment, children and grandchildren often wind up in the marital and family law court. One half of all divorces take place during the first eight years of a marriage. When considering data compiled from the US Census Bureau from 1955 to 1994, 25% of parties have been married for at least 20 years and 4% of the divorced couples have been married at least 40 years.

Couples who enter into their 60’s no longer view themselves as old. They are often optimistic about their future and are willing to change a situation that makes them unhappy. Sometimes a long term marriage runs its course because there is not enough attention, time, empathy and play. Other times people look at each other and wonder who the other person is since they remained married until their children entered university. However, married couples in Broward who wait to hire a divorce attorney to file often find themselves in a highly contested divorce since they have had time to build up their assets.

Women in long term marriages tend to be the party that initiates a divorce. Men often hesitate because they are comfortable with their wife. In a long term marriage you must stay connected, keep things fresh and remain interested in your partner. However, this is sometimes easier said then done.

As a divorce lawyer in Broward County, clients often come into my office and will tell me all of the bad things that their spouse has done which has caused the marriage to be irretrievably broken. In most divorce cases in Fort Lauderdale, the fault of one spouse in committing adultery or abandoning the other spouse does not factor into the ultimate decisions made by the Florida marital and family law judge in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court related to dissolving the marriage. However, when it comes to your marriage, love is not always what keeps you and your spouse living happily ever after in Weston, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City and Plantation.

The following are 7 factors that play a significant role in determining whether your marriage will succeed or if you may wind up in divorce court:

Blending Families: 20% of marriages with children from a prior relationship end up in divorce court

Financial hardships in Broward County brought on by the recession have made divorce a reality for couples who live in South Florida. The recession is causing many couples throughout Fort Lauderdale to rethink their marital situation since a high priced divorce may further deplete their shrunken assets and liabilities. Many divorce attorneys in Hollywood, Cooper City, Miramar, Plantation and other cities in Broward County are available to assist you with your dissolution of marriage during these tough times.

Many couples do not want to get divorced because of recession related problems. People who have have no children and limited finances can save money on their divorce by hiring a lawyer when they have reached a settlement and file for a simplified dissolution of marriage. However, couples with children, real estate and a more complicated financial situation have to salvage their finances during a divorce.

You must be consistent in communicating with your lawyer. Get a referral through word-of-mouth, local and state bar associations or online through search engines such as Google. During your initial consultation with a marital and family law attorney, ask for a free or reduced rate consultation. You should also ask your divorce lawyer about attending mediation as soon as possible. Be cooperative, realistic and prepared to compromise with your spouse during your divorce.

If you reside within Broward County and are having marital problems, it is highly likely that you have or will consult with a divorce lawyer. Before meeting with a divorce attorney in Fort Lauderdale, there are five things that you need to hear about a divorce. In my blog posted yesterday, I discussed two of the five things that you should know before speaking to your marital and family law divorce attorney in Florida. Today I will discuss the remaining three topics.

Hire A Lawyer Who Will Work With You

Educate yourself about your rights so that you can direct your lawyer. You need to make decisions with your lawyer together. Fire a lawyer that you feel uncomfortable with sooner rather than later because after a while, he or she will be too entrenched in your case.

Yesterday, I posted a blog that discussed problems in a marriage which may lead you to the Broward County Courthouse for your divorce. If you are experiencing marital problems and are considering a divorce, you should consult a divorce lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to discuss your marital and family law problems.

One of the issues that may lead you to speak with a lawyer about a divorce, alimony or child support case is due to the fact that you and your spouse never talk about problems. This can cause big conflicts. If you can not address issues rationally and work towards solutions then you are in marital trouble.

Another warning sign of a troubled marriage is when you are happier when you and your spouse are separated. You should enjoy the time spent with your spouse more than you enjoy the time that the both of you are separated.

There are often many signs that indicate that your marriage may wind up in the Broward County, Florida divorce court. While not every marriage with problems ends in divorce, many do. The signs of a troubled marriage may lead you to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where you will ultimately receive your divorce.

One of the first warning signs that your marriage may be heading towards trouble is that you and your spouse are always fighting. This may be shown through constant fights over major issues or minor bickering. If you are doing nothing more than fighting, then you are headed towards trouble.

Another warning sign is that you no longer have fun with each other. If your time is never fun anymore, you need to re-evaluate your relationship to find an activity that you both enjoy. This will make the time that you spend together not so painful.