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Can You Get a Divorce on Paper for Financial Reasons?

Can You Get a Divorce on Paper for Financial Reasons?

While it’s possible to divorce on paper for financial reasons, such an act is considered a form of fraud. Before attempting a “sham divorce,” it’s vital to take into account certain considerations. 

No one should ever make a major legal decision lightly.  Divorce is no exception.  In this article, we’ll discuss what it means to get a divorce for financial purposes, navigate help available for single parents, as well as review the considerations of divorce for financial reasons for those looking intoI it.

“Sham” vs Legitimate Divorce: What’s the Difference?

In our society, you’re entitled to divorce for several reasons: abuse, infidelity, or even just having grown apart.  Another reason would be major differences in finances.  While this action is considered legal– or ‘legitimate– its close cousin, the sham divorce, isn’t.

A sham divorce is one in which two people legally separate to evade creditors or violate tax laws.  In other words, it’s completely valid to leave a partner whose shopping addiction has torn your marriage apart, but you can’t leave the marriage just for the financial benefits you would qualify for.

Getting a divorce on paper for financial reasons but hoping to keep the relationship intact is a tricky maneuver, and according to who you ask, can place you and your former spouse in a great deal of legal trouble!

Got Questions about Divorce?

Need answers about your specific situation? Low Income Relief is run by a team of researchers and we don’t give legal advice, but our friends over at JustAnswer may be able to help! Click on over to ask your legal questions and chat with an attorney now.

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By getting a divorce on paper for financial reasons, families hope to take advantage of opportunities that allow them to save more money.

Government Support for Single Parents

 Being a single parent is no easy task.  It’s true what they say: it takes a village to raise a child.  That being said, there is an assortment of government programs available to help make it a little easier for all the single parents out there.

Below are just a few different programs designed to help single parents make ends meet:

  • The Women and Children’s Program (WIC)
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Summer Food Service Program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Childcare Assistance Program
  • Head Start
  • The Child Tax Credit
  • Insure Kids Now

To find out whether or not a person qualifies for one of these programs, household income is judged.  If you and your spouse are both fully employed, it could make your household less likely to qualify.  For those who find that they barely cross that legal income limit and still struggle, it’s no wonder they might consider divorce on paper for financial reasons. 

Check out this article to find more great ways to save money as a single mom: “Free Stuff for Single Moms.”

Medicaid Qualification

Medicaid is a nationwide program that helps provide health insurance to millions of low-income Americans, pregnant women, and the elderly.  Through these benefits, millions are able to receive the healthcare they need.

However, like any other program, Medicaid has income limits. To see where you fall within this range, consult the official chart

For the elderly or those with disabilities, this income limit isn’t hard to reach.  Most Americans, however, find that they would have to face down severe poverty before qualifying for the help they need.  That is, unless they were to take extreme measures.

By seeking a divorce on paper for financial reasons, an American couple might simply be looking for the help they desperately need.  Even well-paying jobs frequently don’t offer health insurance, and many consider it more important than ever before to have access to affordable healthcare.

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There are benefits to remaining married that might help couples achieve their long-term financial goals.

Escape from Debt

Financial debt can be more than just a slight burden.  Debt and low credit scores affect how likely we are to get approved for a credit card or our ability to finance a house or car.

Of all the aspects of seeking a divorce on paper for financial reasons, this one is by far the most tricky.  Be very careful when pursuing this method.  That debt doesn’t disappear along with the marriage certificate; all debt needs to be paid eventually!


While it may seem as if getting a divorce on paper for financial reasons might help, this is far from the truth.  This illegal act can have major implications for your relationship, your life, and your future.

Before seeking a divorce, you must understand the possible consequences of such a decision. 

Considered a Form of Fraud

As I mentioned earlier, a divorce on paper for financial reasons is a form of fraud.  While this isn’t a commonly investigated area, if you make such a choice to take advantage of welfare benefits, it’s possible you could face fines, suspension of benefits, or even jail time.

Welfare fraud is considered any action that allows you to take advantage of greater governmental benefits than you are legally permitted.  Among these are many programs that we mentioned before: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  

Takes a Great Deal of Trust

Let’s face the facts: marriage isn’t easy.  It takes a great deal of commitment, work, and above all: trust.  While some believe marriage is just a piece of paper, you may find that it’s harder to maintain the resolve it takes to keep that partnership working once the legal commitment is removed.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you and your partner are already undergoing a great deal of stress.  According to expert marriage counselors, financial issues are the number one cause of marital problems. You may immediately think that by adding more money, you can eliminate this concern.  In actuality, the complication of changing debt, legally separating, and engaging in an act of fraud is only likely to complicate matters further.

Sacrifices Legal Benefits of Marriage

When you’re facing significant debt or other financial issues, it can be tempting to think that you can solve all your problems with just the little extra help that some of these government services can provide.  However, in thinking this way you’re ignoring all the long-term benefits that marriage provides.

By remaining legally married, you: 

  • Qualify for an estate marital tax deduction
  • Qualify for the gift tax marital deduction
  • Roll over a deceased spouse’s IRA into your own
  • Contribute to your spouse’s IRA
  • Receive survivor’s benefits
  • Receive social security benefits
  • Save on health insurance

In addition to these financial benefits, there are all the social and emotional benefits to consider as well.

There’s a reason people get married in the first place.  The financial benefits and security help establish long-term bonds that allow partners to better legally, financially, and emotionally stand by one another.


Trying to make a life work alongside another person isn’t easy; it means compromise, communication, and effort by both parties.  One of the biggest issues most marriages will face is a financial hardship, and every couple must face down this dragon differently.

Some may consider a divorce on paper for legal reasons with their legal advisor. It’s crucial to understand your options before taking any major action.

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Jessica Richburg is a freelance writer and educator. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she's located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she passes the time reading, writing, and trying not to be eaten by her feral cat.