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Factors to Consider When Divorcing a Spouse with a Disability

Leaving a Disabled Spouse

The breakdown of a marriage is never easy. When you consider separating from your spouse or filing for divorce, there are many things to consider, including each person’s finances and sharing custody of the children.

If you are contemplating leaving a spouse who has a disability, the situation may be even more complicated. Your spouse may rely heavily on your income or health insurance. You may be their primary caretaker. All of these factors and others can impact your separation and divorce, which is why it is essential to speak with an experienced Boston divorce lawyer before making any decisions.

Your Spouse May Need Support and Care Services

Before leaving your spouse, think carefully about the services you provide them. Do you help them bathe and get dressed? Do you drive them to and from appointments or arrange for their transportation? Do you run errands on their behalf? Do you handle a majority of the household chores like laundry, cleaning, and cooking?

After assessing the level of support you provide, carefully consider which services your spouse can handle on their own, the amount of support friends and family could provide, and the need for a professional caregiver.

At least in the immediate future, you may need to hire a part-time or full-time caregiver. In connection with this, you should consider whether your spouse’s income can bear the cost of a caregiver alone or whether your spouse may need to apply for government assistance without your financial support. Your spouse may qualify for Social Security benefits without your income.

Talk with a Boston divorce attorney about the level of care and support you provide and how to address this moving forward through a separation and divorce.

You May be Required to Pay Spousal Support

If your spouse has a disability that makes them unable to work, or means they have a lower earning potential than you, then your spouse may have a strong argument for seeking spousal support, otherwise known as alimony.

Whether or not your spouse is entitled to alimony and for how long depends on several factors. Your spouse may be entitled to alimony for a certain percentage of the total months you were married. For marriages between five and 10 years, a spouse may ask for up to 60 percent of the months of marriage. The longer the marriage, the greater the percentage.

Alimony could last longer if you agree to it, or if your spouse can prove exceptional circumstances exist, which could include a significant disability.

Massachusetts has a standard alimony formula and caps. To learn how much alimony you may be responsible for, use Infinity Law Group’s Massachusetts’ Alimony Calculator, or download our app, available for Androids and iPhones in Google Play and the App Store. However, a spouse with a significant disability and little income may seek an amount of support above the statutory limit.

You May be Required to Provide Health Insurance

In addition to paying alimony for longer and in a greater amount than is typically allowed, you also may be required to continue to provide your spouse with health care coverage.

This is something to address with your divorce lawyer right away. Providing health insurance can be a significant burden, particularly if you are unable to keep your spouse on an employer-sponsored plan.

Talk with Your Lawyer About “Double Dipping”

An issue that may arise during divorces involving disabilities is double dipping, which means a person’s income or an asset is used twice in two different calculations. From another perspective, double dipping means one spouse receives payment twice from a single asset or stream of income.

For example, if the court has to calculate your child support and alimony payments, then it is important the amount you will pay for one type of support is not used in calculating your income for the other form of support.

Double dipping is also a concern when it comes to retirement savings, pension funds, business interests, and passive income.

Work with Our Experienced Boston Divorce Attorneys to Plan Ahead

If you intend to end your relationship with a disabled spouse, you are going to need to plan carefully. Divorces involving a spouse with a significant disability are often more complex than other divorces. The best thing you can do for yourself is to work with a highly experienced divorce lawyer who will review you with you the potential outcomes of the divorce and how they may impact your finances.

To talk with our divorce lawyers at Infinity Law Group, contact us through our online form or call (855) 941-0909.