The prevalence of serious neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, is increasing throughout the United States. AARP reports that one in 10 people age 65 and older – 10 percent of the elderly-adult population – has Alzheimer’s dementia. Another shocking statistic is this: nearly every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s dementia.
Living with dementia – and living with a person with dementia – can be challenging. In fact, the devastating disease can be a huge strain on a relationship, and some couples may feel like they are no longer able to cope with the relationship any longer. When this is the case, divorce may be a consideration.
The Complications of Divorce with Dementia
It should first be noted that divorcing someone who has dementia can be a complicated process. This is because dementia affects a person’s ability to act and think rationally – in fact, the spouse that has dementia may want the divorce against the other party’s wishes.
Not only may both parties disagree about whether or not the divorce should proceed in the first place, but issues in a divorce may also be hotly contested. Also, because a person suffering from dementia is not of a sound mind, how these issues are resolved can be even more complicated. Reaching an agreement without legal intervention and protections for both parties may not only be impossible, but amoral. The mental capacity of the dementia-suffering person may be in question – if it is, talk to your lawyer about whether or not they are capable of signing legal documents and, if not, what the alternatives are.
Other Alternatives to Divorce
In some cases, divorce may seem like too strong of a course of action for a couple where one party is suffering from dementia. When this is the case, a legal separation is a possibility, as is simply living separate and apart. If a legal separation is pursued, the couple will remain legally married, but the court will issue a judgment about issues in the divorce, such as property division.
There’s Nothing Easy About Caring for a Spouse with Dementia
Caring for a spouse with dementia can be extremely challenging – not only does this disease affect a person’s ability to think logically, but it can also result in severe personality changes, depression, anxiety, angry outbursts, hallucinations, paranoia, and more. Sometimes, a person with dementia can live for many years as someone that you hardly recognize, making maintaining a marriage and intimacy very difficult.
Getting a divorce may feel like the right thing. If it does, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer who can answer your tough legal questions about divorce and dementia. At the law offices of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., our Naperville divorce lawyers are here for you.
For a consultation with a member of our team, please call us today or send us a message. We sympathize with what you’re going through and offer our full support.