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Study shows relationship between serious illness and divorce

Massachusetts couples might want to read about a new study looking into the relationship between divorce rates and illness. Researchers at Purdue University and Iowa State University determined that the chance of a marriage ending in divorce goes up by 6 percent after the wife becomes seriously ill. A husband's serious illness was not found to increase the likelihood of divorce, however.

The study used data from 2,701 marriages that were analyzed between 1992 and 2010. Using information about the onset of cancer, stroke, lung disease and heart problems in the study participants, researchers analyzed how the illnesses affected the chances of divorce and widowhood. Although both the wives' and the husbands' illnesses increased the chances of widowhood, only the wives' illnesses increased the likelihood of divorce.

Information about which spouse initiates divorce after an illness was not available for the study, but the lead author of the study had some theories about the findings. She commented that a serious illness often requires one spouse to care for the one who is ill, and this arrangement can often change the dynamics of the marriage while stressing the couple financially. Because men are generally less socialized as caregivers, she also speculated that wives could become unsatisfied with the care they are receiving from their husband while they are ill.

A person who is going through a divorce while suffering from a serious illness has a lot to deal with. Someone in this situation may want to have representation from an attorney so that their position on property division and other divorce issues can be well represented during negotiations and at court hearings. An attorney can also help a seriously ill spouse to pursue an order for alimony.

Source: Deseret News National, "Divorce more likely when wife has serious illness", Lois M. Collins, March 6, 2015

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