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Divorce and Obamacare: Are They Linked?

By Leslie Fineberg on April 10, 2014

Chicago Divorce LawyersThe open enrollment period to sign up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has passed and millions of Americans were able to sign up before the deadline. Notable provisions in the ACA provide tax credits to subsidize premiums if you are married and filing jointly on your taxes.

But what if your spouse left, you do not know where he or she is, and you have been filing your taxes as “married but filing separately,” on your return because you are not officially divorced?

Under well-defined criteria, if you have children you are caring for, you can file as “head of household” and still receive the tax credits. But if you have no children and are still legally married, you may simply be out of luck when it comes to receiving tax credits under Obamacare.

If you want to be eligible for a health insurance tax credit, you must get a divorce. But, how do you get a divorce if your spouse is nowhere to be found and you cannot serve divorce papers?

Under Illinois Law, it is possible to get divorced even if you don’t know where your spouse lives.  If you cannot find your spouse to serve divorce papers, you may serve them “by publication.” You can do this by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. You will need to check with your county’s Circuit Clerk to find out which newspaper you need to publish your notice in. You must also prove to the court that you made a good effort to find your spouse and that you questioned his or her family members, friends, and colleagues as to his or her whereabouts.

Hopefully, you signed up for coverage under ACA before the open enrollment deadline passed. Say your divorce goes through in June of this year: if you are not covered, you will not qualify for a special enrollment period to get insurance outside of open enrollment. However, if you are covered under an ACA plan and your divorce goes through you can take advantage of the special enrollment period and claim your subsidy.

The process of finding a missing spouse and serving divorce papers can be complicated. The family law attorneys at Nottage & Ward in Chicago urge you not to go through this process alone and to seek our help. If you have any questions about the process or wish to proceed with serving divorce papers, call us at (312) 332-2915 or contact us online today.

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