It is well-known that chronic illness can have a negative effect on a marriage, but apparently the effect is more profound than what has been previously believed. In defiance of the “sickness and health” custom perpetuated by the traditional marriage model, it appears that chronic illness can lead couples to divorce. Here in Illinois, the potential for divorce based on illness can have repercussions on how property is divided, so it can benefit both spouses to understand their rights ahead of filing for divorce.

According to a recent study, 31 percent of marriages in which one spouse has contracted a serious or chronic illness will end in divorce. These trends tend to affect the over-50 crowd, which appears to make sense considering that the rate of chronic illness goes up as a person ages. Divorce also appears to be more common if the wife is the one to fall ill.

However, in the same cases, it appears the wife is the one to file for divorce. This could be based on a variety of factors, not the least of which is the concern that a male spouse is not able or willing to provide the support an ailing spouse requires. Regardless of the reasons, however, a divorce based on an illness can become very complicated upon reaching the negotiation table.

Division of property and other divorce-related issues can already be stressful, as some Illinois residents can attest. This is doubtless exacerbated by a chronic illness and the associated costs of long-term care. It may benefit both spouses to gain a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities in such a unique situation before filing so the potential for an equitable solution can be maximized.

Source: Time, “Couples Are More Likely to Get Divorced if the Wife Gets Sick“, Alexandra Sifferlin, May 1, 2014