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Gray Divorce: Splitting with a Partner who has Significant Health Issues


If you are an older individual who is contemplating a divorce from a spouse who suffers from significant mental or physical impairments, your divorce may have become significantly more complicated. Because Florida is an equitable distribution state, the court will likely have concerns about the ability of an impaired individual to manage self-care, and you may find that significant assets will be required for this duty going forward.

Gray Divorce on the Rise 

The fact is, older couples are getting divorced at much higher rates than they were just 20 years ago.  In fact, while the divorce rate for couples in their 50’s was at around 10 percent in the 1990’s, it has jumped to roughly 25 percent in the most recent decade.  The reasons for this, according to those who study the issue, are myriad.  Women these days often have greater financial stability, giving them more flexibility in deciding their future if they find themselves in unhappy marriages.  And sometimes, older couples find that health issues become oppressive, leading them to seek freedom from the unrelenting demands.

Mental Incompetence 

If mental competency is the issue, your partner’s incapacity will necessarily complicate matters.

  • A physician with access to all medical records will have to verify medical conclusions;
  • A guardian ad litem will have to be appointed in order to look out for the interests of the incapacitated individual;
  • Third parties with concerns in the outcomes of the divorce, such as other family members, will have to be consulted;
  • Additional experts, including financial and medical personnel, may be accessed;
  • In addition to the care of the individual in question, issues related to family commitments (such as weddings or education needs for adult children) will have to be considered.

Physical Limitations 

In the event your spouse will need significant assistance and care going forward, you should be aware of potential costs of said care:

  • Out-of-home costs can average around $9,000 annually;
  • Home health care fees are roughly $20 per hour;
  • The median monthly cost of assisted living facilities in Florida is over $3,000;
  • Nursing home costs in the Sunshine State run between $170 and $475 per day.

Insurance Issues 

While Medicare will cover many of the costs associated with health issues, every situation is different.  If your spouse has relied on your health insurance plan in the past, a termination of benefits due to divorce could lead to catastrophic expenses  going forward.  Consideration of these issues is a must in any divorce where health issues are a concern.

Getting it Right 

Divorce is tough, regardless of the circumstances.  If serious illness is a factor, things can be exponentially more complicated.  At WiseLieberman, PLLC, our Boca Raton divorce lawyers have the legal background and experience to skillfully guide you toward the best possible outcomes.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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