Divorce is different for everyone because each person has his or her own life challenges. In some cases, doing what’s best for you conflicts with what’s best for your partner. And when getting a divorce, if your partner is living with a disability, you may bear the burden of deciding what happens with the future of their care.
A lot will depend on your partner’s type of disability and whether or you have children together; each situation is different. Here are a few areas to consider.
A parent’s disability does not affect custody unless the parent’s ability to cater to the needs of a child are insufficient. In custody cases, the relationship of the child with the parent, physical, emotional and mental needs, as well as preference must be taken into consideration. Read more about child custody.
You must notify his or her family. You will want to communicate your decision as soon as possible, as to not drag out the process. It is likely that your ex’s family may not be thrilled with your decision, but remember that it is your decision and your own life.
Many provisions can be made both in and outside of your separation agreement, dealing with the ex’s future regarding his/her disability. Their family and friends can be brought into the decision. You can also take into account whether they can cover their needs on their own income or if they will need assistance from government services.
In your separation agreement, you can include clauses that outline a “Special Needs Trust,” or SNT, for your ex-spouse. If not already present in the agreement, the court may order an SNT, because the economic needs of your partner may change based on the status of his or her health. In the SNT, a portion of the formerly shared marital assets and alimony is created and set aside for the partner with the disability.
Additionally, your ex-spouse may qualify for government benefits such as Social Security income and disability insurance. These benefits are also necessary to consider when discussing the longevity of your ex-spouse’s financial standing, as well as your own. You may be able to share the benefits of these programs with your ex-partner.
Ultimately, it is up to you if you decide to continue caring for your disabled spouse. When moving on with your personal life, you are allowed to determine the future that you want for yourself.