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Chronic illness may impact divorce rates

There can be many reasons why a couple might explore the option of divorce. For example, recent celebrity breakups have emphasized a more collaborative approach to separations, legal or simply emotional, viewing significant others as teachers on one’s life journey.

Yet the reasons for a breakup may not always be so ethereal. There can be very stark physical realities that strain a couple’s relationship. As a recent study shows, serious or chronic diseases, like cancer, heart or lung disease, or stroke, may put a couple at a much higher risk of divorce.

Researchers examined data on 2,717 couples over a twenty-year period, where at least one spouse was 50 years of age or older at the study’s commencement. In marriages where one spouse became sick, the rate of divorce was higher. 

Caregiving for a loved one who is struggling with a serious illness can present challenges to everyone involved. In some cases, a couple may feel that their marriage is no longer able to meet their needs. However, adjusting to post-divorce lifestyle changes while simultaneously dealing with an illness is no small task. Even for healthy individuals, it may take months or even years to adjust to a new budget and the additional expenses that may arise because household costs are no longer shared. If an individual also has a serious illness, special considerations about spousal support may be in order. 

Fortunately, an attorney who is experienced in divorce matters will know the requirements for presenting or responding to requests for alimony. An attorney can assess the marital estate and propose an equitable solution that will serve a client’s best interests.

Source: Time, "Divorce More Likely When Wife Falls Ill," Alexandra Sifferlin, May 1, 2014

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