University of Michigan Study Shows Illness Increases Divorce Risk


Pasadena divorce lawyers often encounter clients who are filing for divorce after one spouse has fallen ill. Dealing with a serious illness can create stress in a marriage, which magnifies other troubles within the relationship.

A new University of Michigan study supports this observation. The study found that thirty one percent of marriages involving at least one sick partner end in divorce. The study of 2,717 couples also found that the risk of separation was higher when the wife was the ill spouse, although the study did not evaluate each couple’s specific reasons for divorcing or determine who initiated the divorce.

When a divorce involves a seriously ill spouse, there are special factors that must be considered. No fault divorce laws allows you to divorce your spouse for any reason you deem suitable, but you're not allowed to simply walk away from your marital responsibilities.

For example, a seriously ill spouse who is unable to work full time may be entitled to spousal support. A spousal support claim would also be appropriate if the person is currently working, but the nature of his or her illness suggests that continuing to work outside the home will likely not be possible for much longer.

If children are involved, the sick spouse is still entitled to visitation. However, if the sick spouse’s condition means that he or she is physically unable to care for the children, supervised visitation may be needed. The safety of the children must always be a priority.

Maintaining health insurance will likely be the biggest issue to consider after divorce. If insurance is provided by one spouse’s employer, the other spouse is not allowed to stay on the policy after the divorce. The children from the marriage can still be covered, but the other spouse would need to find separate insurance. He or she would be eligible for COBRA coverage, but this is very expensive and only a temporary solution.

Sometimes, a legal separation is the best option when one spouse is ill. If the couple were to obtain a legal separation instead of a divorce, the sick spouse would still be able to be covered under the current insurance policy.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you are in need of assistance with a divorce related issue. Our skilled Pasadena divorce attorneys can discuss your options and help you develop a strategy that best addresses your unique situation.