Divorce is a highly emotional, complicated time. And that’s the best-case scenario. Many factors create difficulty and wreak havoc on the process. And dealing with health issues in divorce is one that often upends the entire situation.
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.
Some argue that it’s a spouse’s duty to stick it out and care for their partner. Divorcing an ailing spouse, an 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, some people say that ending a troubled marriage may be less stressful and allow 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 can muddle and confuse an already intense situation.
In this situation, it’s important to consider all of these angles. But the moral, ethical, 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’s what you need to consider.
Medical Bills/Health Insurance
Money concerns are a focal point in most cases, but they’re an especially big burden when there are health issues in divorce. One spouse relies on the other’s health insurance. 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. That depends a great deal on the situation, and some employer-paid insurance may not allow that. Whatever the situation, a number of complications can arise.
Health Issues And Child Custody
Child custody cases are hard on kids in the best situations, but they’re even more difficult when there are health issues in 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, the court’s overriding concern is the child’s best interest. This usually means awarding custody to the parent best equipped to provide care. Dealing with a serious illness can impact the ability to look after children. This often factors into who winds up as the custodial parent.
If one parent 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 lack of better options.
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.
Make sure that current beneficiaries reflect the 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.
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 is also a crucial part of the process when there are health issues in divorce. And there’s more than just wills and allocation of assets to consider.
Additionally, 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 consider, but it’s vital to ensure continuing care and make sure your wishes are known.
Ending a marriage is complicated and emotional in the best scenarios. Contending with health issues in 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.
If you have questions about divorce, contact Goldberg Jones at our San Diego office.