New Study Draws Attention to Special Issues Relating to Divorcing an Ill or Disabled Spouse


Recently, discussed the results of a new study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The study found that a marriage was more likely to end in divorce when a wife was diagnosed with a serious illness over the age of 50, even though a husband's illness did not affect the risk of divorce. However, previous studies have found that a husband's work-limiting illness or disability increases the likelihood of divorce among younger couples.

No fault divorce laws grant you the right to seek a divorce for any reason you choose, but there are special issues to consider if you're seeking a Pasadena divorce because of a spouse's illness or disability.

The most important thing to remember is that a divorce does not absolve you of responsibility for your ill spouse. You can't be forced to serve as your spouse's caretaker, but you may still be asked to bear financial responsibility.

If your spouse is unable to work due to illness or disability, this will be considered when determining eligibility for alimony. You may also be required to help pay for health insurance and/or uninsured medical costs for your spouse.

If your spouse is suffering from a cognitive impairment, a guardian may need to be appointed to act on his or her behalf throughout the court proceedings. One thing that a guardian may do is ask for the creation of a court-ordered Special Needs Trust (SNT) to hold your disabled spouse's share of the divided marital assets and any alimony payments made in the future. Trusts are used to help preserve a disabled person's eligibility for needs-based government benefits.

If you expect to maintain custody of minor children from the marriage, you may be wondering if you're allowed to collect child support from a disabled spouse. When your spouse is receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments, these benefits are not counted as income for the purpose of paying a child support obligation. However, any money received from SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) can be used in determining child support payments.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you have questions relating the divorce process in the state of California. Our team of skilled Pasadena divorce lawyers are eager to advocate for your interests and help you receive a settlement that will allow you to move on with the next phase of your life.