Chronic Illnesses and Divorce

The process of dealing with a divorce can be very stressful. Not only are you legally separating from your spouse, but you will need to come to an agreement on a wide variety of complicated issues. If one of the parties is not in good physical health at the time of the divorce, such as suffering from a chronic illness, the legal process may become even more difficult.

What is Chronic Illness?

Chronic illness is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about half of all adults have one or more chronic condition and these illnesses will affect someone’s physical and mental health for their entire life. Examples of chronic illnesses include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and immune system defects. All of these conditions weaken the body and can cause serious disabilities and even death.

Chronic diseases are also very expensive. Medical procedures and treatments for these diseases can be costly, which may factor into the financial issues within your divorce.

Chronic Illnesses Causing Divorce

Chronic illness, reported by experts, has increased the risk of divorce from 45% to as high as 75%. Chronic illnesses can cause severe strain in a person’s daily routine and within a relationship. The severity of these illnesses can require extensive caregiving, cause work limitations, and limit socializing. Many times, spouses are unable to adapt to this illness and believe divorcing is their best option, for their own mental health and financial freedom.

Chronic Illnesses Affecting the Divorce Process

People who suffer from chronic disabilities can have their illness taken into consideration during all settlements and court proceedings. In fact, the “age, physical and emotional health of the parties” is a factor under New Jersey’s alimony statute. A major consideration includes the chronically ill spouse’s ability to work. Many times, with a chronic illness, working may not be an option, causing someone serious financial strain.

A consideration that cannot be used in court is the lifespan of the chronically ill spouse. The ill person is still entitled to their fair split of settlements and assets even if their life expectancy is short.

The court should take into account the ill spouse’s needs for health and medical care after the divorce. For example, a married couple’s house may be designed to accommodate the chronically ill spouse, such as with stair lifts and guide bars. In this case, the court may find it necessary for the ill spouse to keep the house. Additionally, chronic illnesses can make it difficult to care for children, so the court may take this into consideration when reviewing custody measures.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today

Divorcing a loved one can be tough, especially when one is dealing with a chronic illness. Having a lawyer who cares about you and wants to see you reach the best outcome is important. The experienced divorce lawyers at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC can help you receive the settlements you deserve. If you or a loved one is going through a divorce with a partner who is suffering from a chronic illness, we are here to carefully review your situation. Contact our office today.

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