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Serious illness could prompt divorce for New Jersey couples

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Filing for a divorce is not something people generally do on a whim. Deciding to end a marriage is a decision that is typically made only after couples have exhausted all their efforts and options to repair a broken relationship. Sadly, there are some obstacles and challenges that are impossible to overcome and it may be in both spouses’ best interests to dissolve their marriage.

There always seem to be studies conducted that attempt to identify the factors that most often lead couples to divorce. These reports may not rise to the level of scientific certainty or prove which factors will necessarily cause a marriage to fail, but they can give us some insight into common issues that may be affecting many marriages at a particular time.

For example, a recent report suggests that couples may be more likely to divorce if a spouse – particularly the wife – gets sick with a chronic illness. In fact, after studying more than 2,700 couples over the span of 20 years, researchers found that 31 percent of couples got divorced when a spouse had a serious illness.

This recent study in no way suggests that a chronic illness will end a couple’s marriage. However, it could mean that the challenges couples face when one of them is diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or other illness are difficult enough to push a marriage past its breaking point. This may certainly be interesting to baby boomer couples who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Serious illness can bring out feelings of fear and anxiety as well as trigger depression. It can also put couples in a position to confront very difficult issues related to finances and long-term care planning. These emotions and challenges often put enormous strain on a marriage and bring out traits or responses that spouses may not like or expect. Spouses dealing with these situations may feel as though the best solution is to end the marriage.

Rather than trying to navigate this complicated process alone, it may be wise to speak with an attorney regarding the unique factors of a divorce, particularly if a chronic illness is involved, which could significantly impact alimony, child support and property division arrangements. With legal support and guidance concerning New Jersey’s divorce laws, spouses can explore their options and pursue a satisfactory divorce settlement.

Source: Time, “Divorce More Likely When Wife Falls Ill,” Alexandra Sifferlin, May 1, 2014

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