Massachusetts divorce laws health insurance

Frequently Asked Questions: Massachusetts Divorce

The American Psychological Association states that between 40 and 50 percent of married couples in the United States get a divorce. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act has you covered. The Affordable Care Act was a comprehensive health care reform law that went into effect in March This law provides people with subsidies that lower health care costs for households.

For those that have a chronic illness, it is illegal for companies to refuse coverage based on pre-existing health conditions. You will qualify for a special enrollment period if you have experienced a qualifying life event, such as a divorce, marriage or the birth of a child. Under the affordable care act, divorcing may save money for both parties through subsidies on their Obamacare policy. Meaning the burden of cost is heavier on a two-person family than on two single people.

As a result, there is a financial benefit to getting a divorce or never getting married. Medical coverage from a spouse can sometimes last way beyond the length of the marriage itself. A former marriage may help you obtain government-sponsored Medicare if you are divorced and approaching the age where you qualify. It is important to understand Medicare after a Divorce. Medicare is a health insurance plan that is offered by the federal government for people over 65, or for some younger individuals who have certain disabilities.

A person will generally qualify for Medicare at the age of 65 if they worked for the equivalent of 10 years and qualify for Social Security. There are some conditions that will need to be met for qualification:. These plans charge premiums. Medigap policies are individual plans; if a couple divorced, they would not necessarily need to change coverage. It is not unheard of for seniors to divorce so that a sick spouse can have zero income and qualify for more affordable coverage.

Medicaid and Medicare can be used together when a person qualifies for both. It is best to contact your state Medicaid program to see if you would be eligible to receive benefits.

General Law - Part I, Title IV, Chapter 32B, Section 9H

If you receive more than Medicare Part A, you are likely being charged monthly premiums. If you have divorced and had an income decrease, you may qualify for a lower premium. You can request a new decision based on a life-changing event, just provide proof of your life-changing event to qualify. Under Rosen, there is now a very limited exception to the ordinary rule that child support arrears never go away. If the cause of the divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, the plaintiff must reside in Massachusetts for at least one year prior to the filing of the action.

If the cause of the divorce occurred within Massachusetts, at least one of the parties must be a Massachusetts resident. Check out Attorney James M. Like most states, Massachusetts allows no-fault divorce , which requires only that one party no longer wants to stay married. Many people think that a fault grounds divorce gives the Plaintiff an advantage in getting property division or alimony; however, this is not generally the case. If the divorce is uncontested, the two parties may file a Joint Petition for Divorce with a Separation Agreement and an Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage.

The Separation Agreement must address all aspects of the divorce. If the divorce is contested, the divorce proceeding is started by filing a Complaint for Divorce and serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on your spouse.

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The summons will be provided by the court after you file the divorce complaint. There is a filing fee for both types of divorce that can be waived if the filing party is indigent.

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The state will only allow a divorce for a recognized reason as set forth by statute. In addition, Massachusetts has fault grounds for divorce including:. If a portion of an agreement merges into the divorce decree, the merging portion can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances following the entry of judgment. Surviving provisions are said to have independent legal significance. In common language, the merged portions of an agreement are modifiable after the entry of judgment, while the surviving or non-merged portions cannot be modified.

It is important to note that the division of marital assets generally survives the judgment of divorce, and is not modifiable at a later date, while child-related issues generally merge, and can be modified after the judgment. A separation agreement is not enforceable without approval by a Judge.

The state is considered to be a party to the marriage and must approve the terms of a divorce. Until the agreement is approved by a Judge, the enforceability of an agreement remains in question. If the parties agree on all issues, a simplified divorce procedure is available. An action for divorce based upon an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be commenced by filing a joint petition for divorce. The joint petition must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit alleging that the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown along with a separation agreement and sworn financial statements executed by each party.


The parties can request a hearing date on the same day the papers are filed. An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both parties have agreed on all issues and put the agreement in writing for the Judge to approve. If there is even one issue that is not agreed upon, the divorce is still contested. If the parties have agreed on all issues before the divorce action is filed, they may file a joint petition for divorce.

Otherwise, the divorce will start as a contested divorce and may be amended to uncontested when the parties reach an agreement.

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Massachusetts does not require a couple to separate before filing a divorce. Yes, there is a court hearing involved in an uncontested divorce. The state is considered a party to every marriage and must participate in every divorce. The state is represented by a Judge who must find that the settlement is fair and reasonable to all parties, and that children are adequately protected. In addition, the Judge must protect the state in the event that one party receives public assistance. In most cases, an uncontested divorce hearing is quick and routine. Because Massachusetts allows for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, it generally not possible for one party to prevent the divorce from eventually occurring.

However, the specific timing and terms under which parties are divorced are often subject to significant variation depending on the level of agreement and cooperation between the parties. Massachusetts allocates property between spouses based on an equitable division of assets. This means that the court will consider the following factors in allocating property:. Equitable division does not mean an equal division of property, although an equal division of property is common.

Equitable division means that the property will be divided fairly.

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Judges and attorneys broadly agree that the most important factor in determining the division of assets is the length of the marriage. Following a short-term marriage 15 years , a judge is often more inclined to divide the assets equally. Medium-term marriages of 5 to 14 years frequently present a challenge to a judge that can require close scrutiny of the other factors set forth above. This means that the court will consider the same factors in allocating debts as it does in allocating other assets. Any liability that is secured by an asset usually becomes the obligation of the person who receives the property.

An example is that a mortgage is secured by real estate and usually becomes the obligation of the person who lives in the real estate. An auto loan usually becomes the obligation of the person who has use of the car.

Credit card debt is usually unsecured debt and is part of the general division of assets. Although courts purport to assign liabilities in the same manner as they do assets, many divorce practitioners believe that the allocation of liabilities can be less predictable — and subject to greater variation on a case-by-case basis — than the division of assets in a typical divorce. Retirement funds typically fall into two categories: 1 acquired before the marriage; or 2 acquired during the marriage. In a short or medium-term marriage, retirement funds acquired before the marriage may not be subject to division in a divorce.

Retirement funds acquired during the marriage are generally subject to division and treated as an asset of the marriage.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding the division of retirement funds, however, and a skilled attorney may convince a judge to depart from the conventional wisdom in a given case. Retirement funds may require a special court order to divide the asset pursuant to a divorce. The QDRO must be prepared by the parties and the retirement plan administrator may need to be consulted.

Massachusetts permits either spouse to obtain a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, even if the other spouse objects. Although cooperation between spouses does tend to make the divorce process easier and less expensive. Without cooperation, the divorce is a contested matter that takes longer and subsequently becomes more expensive and procedurally challenging. Ultimately, a trial may be required if one spouse will not agree to proceed with the divorce; however, even a highly resistant spouse cannot generally stop a divorce from moving forward in the end.

A divorce will typically become final ninety days after the Judge issues a divorce decree. May practitioners consider the day waiting a period an anachronism that causes needless confusion. However, the Nisi period is important, inasmuch as a party cannot re-marry prior to the expiration of the period, and parties remain married for state and federal tax purposes if the Nisi period overlaps with the last day of the tax year i. December 31st. If the parties have an uncontested divorce with a separation agreement, the Judge must first approve the agreement which then has an additional thirty day waiting period.

In these cases, the divorce generally becomes final days after the parties appear before the Judge. However, this may be delayed a few more days as the waiting periods start when the Judge signs the decree and not when the parties appear before the Judge.