how do health issues affect divorce

Can Health Issues Complicate Divorce?

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Divorce is a highly emotional, complicated time. And that’s the best-case scenario. Many factors wreak havoc on your personal life in the process of ending a marriage. And dealing with health issues during a divorce only makes things more difficult.

Health Issues And How They Affect Your Divorce

We’re talking about serious health issues in divorce. Things like cancer, chronic conditions, and potentially life-threatening ailments.

These raise all manner of problems, from practical concerns to deep ethical and moral dilemmas. It causes some people to reconsider divorce in the first place. Many argue that it’s a spouse’s duty to stick it out and care for their partner. The whole, “In sickness and in health” thing. 

Divorcing an ailing spouse, or individual fighting for their life, can have repercussions on other relationships. Going through with ending a marriage risks alienating friends, family, and even children.

It may look like one spouse is abandoning the other in a time of great need, whether that’s true or not.

Then again, other people say ending a troubled marriage may be less stressful. That this new freedom allows the sick spouse to focus on recovery without also having to cope with the stress of a problematic marriage.

No two cases are ever the same. Whatever the specifics, guilt and stress often muddle and confuse an already intense situation.

Health Issues Can Present Legal Issues

It’s important to consider all the angles and ramifications. But the moral, ethical, and philosophical concerns are a debate for another time and place. Health issues in divorce also present tricky legal hurdles, which is more our area of expertise.

There’s thorny legal territory to navigate, and here are a few areas you need to consider.

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Losing Health Insurance / Medical Bills

Money concerns are a focal point in most cases, but they’re an especially big burden when there are health issues during divorce. If one spouse relies on the other’s health insurance, there’s a substantial impact.

Ending a marriage may mean that person no longer has coverage for chronic, lasting ailments. This may result in the ailing party no longer having access to the proper medical care or facing crushing medical bills.

On the other hand, after divorce, the ill spouse may qualify for assistance from the government that otherwise wouldn’t have been available. In some cases, it’s also possible for the courts to order continuing coverage as part of the settlement.

Whatever the situation, a number of common complications arise.

Related Reading: How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

Life Insurance

Life insurance is often an important piece of divorce proceedings, especially when it comes to providing for minor children. It depends on the nature and severity of an affliction, but purchasing additional life insurance may not be an option depending on health issues.

Make sure that current beneficiaries reflect any changes in your situation.

Benefits can be used to cover a child’s education and provide for their continuing care in the event one parent passes away. No one wants to consider this possibility, but it confronts many regardless.

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Estate Planning and Property Division

Taking a look at estate planning is an important piece of dissolving a marriage. How you intend to dole out property will most likely change in the wake of dissolution.

This also forms a crucial part of the process when there are health issues in and during a divorce. And there’s much more than just wills and allocation of assets to consider.

It’s important to lay out who has power of attorney and who has authority in medical choices should the worst happen.

It may not be pleasant to think about, but it’s vital to ensure continuing care and make your wishes known.

Related Reading: How Is Property Divided in California?

Can Health Issues Affect Child Custody?

Child custody cases are hard on kids in the best situations, but they’re even more difficult when there are health issues during a divorce.

It’s bad enough to watch parents split up or deal with a terrible disease, but when both happen simultaneously, it’s almost unbearable. It can create all manner of trauma and resentment, and relationships may never recover.

When it comes to ruling on custody in these situations, the court’s overriding concern remains the child’s best interest. This usually means awarding custody to the parent best equipped to provide care.

Dealing with a serious illness often impacts your ability to look after children. If one parent simply isn’t capable of caring for a child for the time being, the courts may place with the healthier parent.

This isn’t necessarily an endorsement of that parent’s abilities, it’s a decision that may come from a lack of better options. Even if recovery happens, the courts may maintain the status quo when it comes to parenting plans.

Ending a marriage is complicated and emotional in the best scenarios. Contending with health issues during a divorce only amplifies these feelings and difficulties. Every relationship is different, so how people react runs the full spectrum. Some halt the process, while others proceed as usual.

Dealing with health issues in divorce presents a number of moral and ethical questions to consider. But it also includes practical and legal hurdles as well, and it’s important to account for all sides.

Related Reading: Should I Hire a Divorce Lawyer?

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