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What You Need to Know When Divorcing a Spouse With Alzheimer's

Posted on in Divorce

Geneva divorce lawyer

Getting a divorce is a difficult decision under any circumstances. However, if one spouse has Alzheimer's, that adds even more stress to the scenario. In many cases, the healthy spouse may feel like the marriage is over, since the other spouse’s personality or behavior has changed. If dementia is a factor in your Illinois divorce, you should contact a skilled family law attorney to help you understand the legal aspects of your situation.

Moral and Legal Considerations During Divorce

Today, 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to memory loss and behavioral changes. An affected spouse who was normally calm and loving can become violent and angry, due to chemical changes in the brain.

Although a spouse with dementia does not intentionally act in a mean or negative way, this can still cause a marriage to deteriorate over time. This is especially true if the healthy spouse fears for their safety when the sick spouse acts out. The healthy partner may also begin to feel more like a caregiver than a spouse. The stress of having to care for a sick partner can take its toll after an extended period of time, and this can ultimately lead to mental or physical issues for the healthy spouse as well.

A spouse may feel guilty for not staying in their marriage “in sickness and in health,” but sometimes the required care for a spouse with Alzheimer's is beyond a person’s capabilities. In some cases, a spouse with dementia may require specialized care or assistance by trained medical personnel, or they may need to begin residing in an assisted living facility. In these circumstances, the other spouse may feel that it is best to legally end the marriage so they can take care of their own needs.  

Since Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse only has to cite irreconcilable differences as a reason for ending their marriage. Therefore, the spouse of an Alzheimer's patient can legally file for divorce without needing to demonstrate a reason for doing so. While the other spouse may not be able to agree that the marriage is beyond repair, if spouses live “separate and apart” for at least six months, irreconcilable differences are presumed, and a divorce will be granted.

In some cases, divorce proceedings may take longer to complete if the spouse with dementia refuses to grant the divorce or is incapable of consenting to the divorce. Depending on the stage of their dementia, a spouse may or may not be capable of understanding and thus signing legal documents. In such cases, a person with power of attorney or an appointed guardian may be required to complete the divorce agreement on behalf of the dementia patient. If you decide to end your union with a spouse who has Alzheimer’s, it is important to seek compassionate legal counsel and determine the best course of action that will protect the rights of everyone involved.  

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, and your spouse suffers from Alzheimer's disease, this can complicate what is already a very emotional process. You need to know what the laws are for divorcing under these circumstances. Call an experienced Geneva divorce attorney at 630-200-4882 to schedule a free consultation today. We can help you determine the best approach to take during your divorce and work with you to reach a positive outcome to your case.

Sources:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075500050K11a-17.htm 

https://alz.org/alzheimer_s_dementia

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