We actually had an elderly couple come into our office who had been married for years and years file for divorce because they were better off divorced financially than married. She was devastated and he sat there patting her hand.
My wife and I talk about this repeatedly: getting divorced but staying together after our sons are grown up and out of the house because we think we'll be better off financially. The reality after we examined it under our circumstances is that it makes no difference tax-wise while we're both alive, and hurts her financially once I'm dead. (Given my health, I expect her to far outlive me.)
Divorcing only works if both the husband and wife are still working and expect to work another 10 years or so, and they combined make more than $65k. In this case, they avoid the following tax penalties:
- Obamacare tax penalty;
- Marriage tax penalty
the above penalties are of course off-set by the husband and wife having fewer tax deductions (one cannot claim the other as a dependent) and having higher income tax withholding from their paychecks. Again depending on their circumstances, each will likely get much of those taxes back at end of year AND qualify for healthcare "subsidies."
Assuming the husband has had higher wages during the course of his life, when he dies the wife will not have the option of taking his social security monthly payment over hers. By law and because they're divorced, she'll automatically be "stuck" with her social security benefit only.
There are also estate issues when the husband dies that should a trust not be setup with her the named beneficiary, the estate would automatically then go into probate with the State getting a chunk of the estates value via probate court costs. This would also put the wife in a bad position in keeping the family home, etc..
In my and my wife's case, I'm the sole breadwinner in the family. Were we to get divorced but "stay together" we'd actually get financially impacted harder than we already are, that is unless she agreed to go on Obamacare and forego alimony in the deal. The only way we "win" in this case is if I have my salary cut down to below $65k -- which financially speaking for me is financial suicide.
My and my wife's only way "out" of paying the Obamacare tax in this case is for me to flat out quit my job and live off my savings until retirement - which I can easily do. Our plan is to sell everything once the kids are done with high school, I'll quit my job and we'll move to a low-tax state where I'll either stay retired, or make just enough to cover our monthly expenses. The side benefit to our plan is that then my two sons would qualify for grants, financial assistance, etc.. to go to college -- which they would not be able to -- should I keep working. I make too much and all these rip-off colleges would charge me full-boat for both of 'em.
Screw that, I'm out to protect myself financially and screw the system in return for all the screwing it's given me my adult working life!