Jake and Maria Grey are considering ending their nine-year marriage to qualify for state aid. / WFAA screenshot

Is it Best for Couples Who Have Children with Disabilities to Divorce

Parents of children with disabilities would be inclined to divorce each other to put their son or daughter in a better position to receive Medicaid. This is more common than you might think.


Brandon Magallon, a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas with a family of three, earns too much for his three-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy to receive Medicaid.

“He’s putting criminals away who are getting Medicaid and federal benefits that we can’t get,” Magallon’s wife, Jayme, told The Dallas Morning News.

The couple considered divorcing in order to be eligible for benefits, but eventually made the decision not to, due to their religious beliefs.

Another family in the state faces a similar predicament. Jake and Maria Grey are considering ending their nine-year marriage to qualify for state aid. Their daughter, Brighton, has Wolf-Hirsch horn syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes developmental delays, seizures, low muscle tone and delayed growth.

They spend upwards of $15,000 a year out of pocket on Brighton’s health care, even with health insurance, which is more than 30 percent of their annual income.

An Army veteran, Jake earns about $40,000 a year, therefore the family doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. And while there is state assistance available, there are tens of thousands of people on the waiting lists, according to WFAA.

If the couple gets a divorce, Maria would become a single, jobless mother of two and qualify for Medicaid.

“We’ve just struggled and struggled with it, and now we’ve gotten to the point, where we feel it’s a real possibility,” Jake told the news channel.

Divorce does not require the couple to have separate addresses and costs just $300. There is an unlikely chance that couples would be charged with perjury and there is no record of the state prosecuting a case such as this.

Families who have children with disabilities living in the state of Texas can only qualify for Medicaid if they make $36,450 or less, one of the lowest in the country.

“There are a lot of families who find themselves in situations like this where they either have to get rid of assets or leave jobs,” Hannah Mehta of Project TX Fragile Kids told The Dallas Morning News. “Unless they’ve ever been exposed to this world, it’s not something most people even consider.”

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