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UPDATED: Divorce When a Spouse Has Dementia

Posted on in Over 50

Divorce When a Spouse Has Dementia

Originally published: January 17, 2018 -- Updated: November 3, 2021

UPDATE: In addition to considering the issues discussed below, a person will need to be sure to understand how issues such as property division or spousal maintenance will be addressed when divorcing a spouse with dementia. This will ensure that a spouse who cannot provide for themselves will have the necessary financial resources, while also making sure the other spouse will have the ability to meet their own needs going forward.

Why Being a Caretaker to Your Spouse Can End in DivorceMost couples view marriage as a contract to share their lives and care for each other when they are in need. After all, the common wedding vows include “in sickness and in health.” However, caring for a sick spouse is trying on your marriage if your spouse has a condition that is unlikely to improve. Especially for couples who have reached old age, there may be a point at which one spouse is physically or mentally incapable of functioning on their own. The caregiver spouse may feel conflicted between their commitment to their marriage and their feelings of unhappiness. Sometimes, the unhappiness wins and the couple divorces. Though this may seem disloyal to those who are outside of the marriage, there are several reasons why becoming a caretaker to your spouse can lead to divorce:

  1. Your Relationship Has Changed: Spouses often think of each other as lovers, friends, and/or partners – all of which ideally means they are equals. When you are a long-term caretaker for your spouse, your relationship loses its equality. It may feel like you are a servant to your spouse without them reciprocating. Outside of your caretaking responsibilities, you may be performing all of the other tasks that you once shared. An unbalanced workload puts stress on you, and it is understandable to feel some resentment towards your spouse.
  2. Your Spouse Has Changed: You may not recognize the person your spouse has become if they are sick or disabled. The change may be startling if your spouse is suffering from a cognitive disease such as dementia, which can cause memory loss and personality changes. A spouse who is physically disabled may become more irritable and depressed, which will strain your relationship.
  3. There May Be No Light at the End of the Tunnel: It is easier to endure these drastic changes to your marriage if you believe that your spouse will recover and your relationship will be closer to normal. When your spouse’s condition does not improve or grows worse, you may dread the idea of continuing your caretaker role for the rest of your spouse’s life. At that point, the idea of leaving your marriage may come to mind, even if you do not want to act on it.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

If you decide to divorce a sick or disabled spouse, you may be expected to continue financially supporting them with their living and health expenses. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can explain how your spouse’s health could affect the division of property and spousal maintenance. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


Unique Concerns for Divorcees Over 50

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Unique Concerns for Divorcees Over 50Going through a divorce is fundamentally the same process for everyone, regardless of their age. You need to divide the life you shared, including the assets you accumulated and the responsibilities you hold. Getting divorced when you are age 50 or older means you will approach some of these issues differently than if you were a younger couple. Your children are likely either adults or getting close to adulthood, which makes child-related issues less of a focus. However, there are other issues that can be more complicated during a gray divorce:

  1. Health Insurance: Having good health insurance coverage becomes more vital as you get older and your healthcare expenditures likely increase. Divorce may disrupt your insurance if you are on your spouse’s plan. You need to find your own health insurance source until you are old enough to start receiving Medicare. If you are not eligible for Medicare based on your own work history, you can receive Medicare under your former spouse’s plan as long as you were married for at least 10 years and you have not remarried.
  2. Retirement: Dividing retirement assets is an issue in all divorces, but divorcees age 50 and older are dealing with plans that are more mature and closer to being used. If your retirement assets are far greater than your spouse’s assets, you will likely need to share some of its value with your spouse because they are at the age where it may be too late for them to build up their retirement assets on their own. You and your spouse can negotiate whether you will share your retirement assets in one lump sum or through continued payments.
  3. Estate Plan: People 50 and older are more likely to have created an estate plan for how to divide their assets upon their death and who should have the power to make decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated. You can update these documents following your divorce to remove your spouse as the primary beneficiary. However, you might not completely cut your spouse out of your estate plan. For instance, you may agree to give your spouse assets upon your death as a replacement for spousal maintenance.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you have chosen to divorce after decades of marriage, you need to work with someone who is experienced in handling cases such as yours. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can handle all of the complicated life issues that come with gray divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


Dispelling Assumptions About Gray Divorce

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Dispelling Assumptions About Gray DivorceIt is difficult for people outside of a marriage to understand why a couple would divorce after being together for decades. Family and close friends want an explanation because they are surprised by and upset about the change. Observers may conclude that:

  • One of the spouses is going through a midlife crisis and made an impulsive decision to divorce; or
  • The spouses were waiting for their children to become adults before they divorced.

These are both factors that can influence the timing of a divorce. However, gray divorce can occur for reasons that defy common stereotypes:

  1. Getting a Divorce Is Rarely Impulsive: People going through a midlife crisis stereotypically seek youthful excitement, and finding a younger romantic partner can make someone feel younger. However, getting a divorce is not as simple as buying a sports car. The process takes months to complete, and the result upends your life socially and financially. Deciding to divorce can be impulsive, but completing it takes commitment.
  2. Decades of Tension Can Lead to Divorce: Spouses may realize their lack of compatibility after they have retired and are no longer actively parenting. However, people do not suddenly stop loving each other. The spouses’ relationship had likely been flawed for years. Careers and parenting can fill a void in a marriage when spouses do not communicate, lack affection or cannot cooperate with each other. When forced to interact with each other, spouses can no longer ignore that they are unhappy together.
  3. People Stay Married for Reasons Other than Children: Parents do try to protect their children by delaying their divorce until after the children have left the home. However, it is difficult to stay in a marriage for that reason alone. In practical terms, waiting for their children to become adults spares the parents from including child support or the allocation of parental responsibilities in the settlement. The parents may cling to their marriage because they still care for each other or are afraid of being alone.
  4. Both Rich and Poor Choose Gray Divorce: Gray divorce seems like a luxury because it is expensive and leaves each spouse with fewer assets. However, unhappy spouses will divorce, even if they cannot afford it. Financial strife is one of the main stressors in a marriage that can cause conflict and lead to divorce. Wealthier couples can afford to build separate lives from each other while staying married.

Getting a Gray Divorce

The division of property and spousal maintenance can be complicated if you divorce after a long marriage. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you with your gray divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

Be Careful with Online Dating After Gray Divorce

Posted on in Over 50

Be Careful with Online Dating After Gray DivorcePeople who divorce after age 50 may feel an urgency to start dating again and find a new romantic partner. You do not like the sudden loneliness you feel after decades of being married. There is also a heightened sense of your biological clock ticking and wanting to start a relationship while you can still enjoy it. You will learn that the dating process has changed since the time you met your former spouse. Online dating websites have in many ways taken the place of singles bars and other such venues. The prospect of meeting your match from the comfort of your computer can be both exciting and scary. Gray divorcees must be careful when using online dating services. Bad experiences can drain your post-divorce assets and damage your vulnerable psyche.

What is Online Dating?

Online dating sites are essentially social media sites for the purpose of starting relationships or friendships. As a member, you will create a profile that includes:

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