As our Baby Boomers age, we‘ve seen a growing trend in divorce among people over the age of fifty. Of these divorces, a significant number of them occur after one of the spouses experiences a major health scare or disability. There is no single reason why this happens, but there can be many factors involved on both sides of the issue and it is important for attorneys not to judge the motivations of their clients during such a sensitive time.
Surprisingly, many women file for divorce after a major diagnosis or illness. Sometimes, dealing with one‘s own mortality makes a person seriously consider her life and may encourage her to leave an unhappy marriage that she may have been willing to tolerate previously. These women may want to make the most of the time they have left and have a greater appreciation for that time. In other cases, these women may have undergone a major world view change that gives them different views and perspectives on life that may not be shared with her spouse. This can enhance existing rifts in the relationship.
On the other side of the coin, the spouse of a person who has gone through a health crisis may also feel the need to leave the relationship. Some people are not by nature good caregivers and watching their formerly health spouse struggle with basic functions and tasks may shake their view of their mortality and the relationship. This may cause deep conflicts for a person who is still engaged in vigorous levels of activity himself. Others may go through their own shift in their world view and may no longer share fundamental perspectives with their spouse.
In still other cases, divorce may occur simply because the couple cannot handle enormous health expenses without impoverishing the healthy spouse. Especially in cases where an illness could be terminal, divorce coupled with applications for Medicaid and/or Medicare benefits may be the only option to protect the surviving spouse financially due to the community property laws of New Mexico. If this is something you are considering, you need to consult with an attorney experienced in both these types of estate planning and family law issues before every filing an application for benefits.
Regardless of the reason, serious illness and disability can shake a marriage to its foundations. If you are in this situation, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options.