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When A Degenerative Disease Ultimately Leads to Divorce


The Atlantic recently featured an important article about couples who divorce due to severe degenerative diseases that essentially render one unconscious and/or no longer present in a relationship. The article follows a man who was married to his wife for 30 years and who cared for his wife for five years after she was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease; a fatal, genetic brain disorder with no treatment or cure, and which completely deteriorates someone, both mentally and physically. Ultimately, he had to file for divorce because the cost of his wife’s long-term care was bankrupting him and, if she was single, her care was covered. The article goes on to explain that this man now has a companion, and although he still visits his wife daily in the care facility to make sure that all of her needs are met, his adult son is having a difficult time adjusting to the situation.

This issue not only highlights just how difficult things can become when one person in a relationship becomes devastatingly ill, but just how difficult things can be for caregivers in general, who are often not offered nearly enough support. No one can tell you if you have made the right choice in a situation like this except for you, however, a number of people would likely argue that this man’s decisions were understandable, as being a caregiver in a marriage can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially draining; all while someone also has to watch their partner slip away. While some people may seek out support groups to get through it, others may feel like they need a partner who will provide emotional and practical support. In addition, sometimes the situation is reversed, and individuals who are sick and in care facilities start relationships with new people—especially if they do not remember that they are married—or even if they just feel that they need companionship. By no means does this automatically mean that a couple has stopped loving each other.

This man’s story is not that unique today in America: A number of couples separate or go through divorce each year due to physical and behavior illnesses, especially when it comes to dementia. And while some may assume that memory loss is the first symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia, in fact, behavioral changes can come first, and this can lead to aggression, anger, and even physical and verbal abuse directed against the other spouse.

Contact Our West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney for Help

Divorce often inevitably involves difficult situations, however, you are not alone: Working with someone who is experienced in these issues can help provide that peace of mind needed to help get through such a loss. Contact our West Palm Beach divorce attorney at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. today to find out more about the kinds of services we provide to those seeking divorce.





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