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Legal Considerations When Divorcing a Sick Spouse

Coping with a chronic or terminal illness is tough. So tough, in fact, that nearly one-third of marriages crumble in the midst of it (much more often when it’s the wife who is sick).

Although this can seem heartless and cruel, New Jersey divorce lawyers know the reality is often not so black-and-white.

Illness can also be a serious stressor on a marriage, especially if the healthy spouse assumes the role of caregiver. Some illnesses may alter the ailing spouse’s personality, making them more of a stranger than the person the healthy spouse knew and loved for years or decades. Sickness can rob spouses of the ability to be intimate and leave both parties more prone to deep depression. It’s also not unusual for the healthy spouse to seek comfort in another person who may ultimately become more than a friend.

Whatever your reasons or goals, our dedicated East Brunswick divorce attorneys can help you navigate this difficult process.

Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Advise You of Options

Divorce can be complicated under even the most mundane of circumstances. Complexity can be greatly enhanced when one spouse has a serious illness. Property division, health insurance, life insurance, child custody – all must be considered in light of the current circumstances and also what is to come. This is not the kind of New Jersey divorce you want to try to handle yourself.

With regard to health insurance, many spouses share a health insurance plan through their employment. If the person who is sick is relying on health insurance from the other spouse’s job, it may be worth it to delay the divorce and file for a divorce from bed and board, depending on the person’s prognosis.

Decisions regarding child custody may also be more complicated when one spouse is ill. Healthy spouses often seek sole custody of children for their own benefit. Courts tend to favor joint custody agreements in support of co-parenting, but the severity of one’s condition – and the extent to which they can continue acting as a caregiver – may be taken into careful consideration.

Family law courts can also order certain benefits, like retirement, be dispensed in a certain manner. However, it’s important if any changes, such as to the primary beneficiary, be filed directly with those institutions. Same with life insurance.

The ailing spouse is also likely to need estate planning services, to discuss things like health care power of attorney, advanced medical directive, guardianship and property inheritance. It’s possible that a divorce settlement could take these agreements into account.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.

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