When someone contracts a long-term illness or disease, such as cancer, it has a drastic impact on many areas of their life – not just their immediate health. They may no longer be able to work, for instance. They may need extensive medical treatment. Their spouse may end up feeling like more of a caretaker than anything else. The relationship can change over time.
What studies have found is that this can sometimes be linked to divorce. Interestingly, gender is heavily influential. In heterosexual marriages, when men contract a long-term illness, the odds of divorce do not change. But if women contract the illness, then the odds of divorce go up. The implication here is that husbands are more likely to file for divorce than wives, at least in this specific situation.
This can make the process more complicated
A divorce in this situation can be very complicated. For instance, the spouse who is sick may have extensive medical bills. Do these bills have to be divided in the divorce? What about future costs?
Child custody may also be a factor that becomes contentious. For example, a parent’s health is one thing that courts consider when determining if a person should have custody or not. Is the illness such that one parent will not be able to have custody of their children? Courts certainly prefer using shared custody so that children can have a relationship with both parents, at least in most cases, but it’s also very natural for a parent who is battling an illness to be worried that they may lose this role in their child’s life.
Exploring your options
These are just a few of the ways that a divorce can grow complicated, but they help to show why it’s important to understand all of your legal options if you find yourself in this position.