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Can I divorce my spouse with dementia?

Not every spouse can care for their partner with significant medical needs by themselves. Often just the thought of leaving your significant other due to their illness will leave you with a feeling of overwhelming guilt. Remaining with a partner who is experiencing memory loss, disorientation, confusion and behavioral changes is overwhelming. The stress of being the primary caregiver can take a significant toll both emotionally and physically on the spouse who is not incapacitated.

State laws determine how to proceed

In a no-fault divorce state, alleging "irreconcilable differences" is all it takes. Although fault divorces are not common and most states no longer even recognize them, in the states do, a divorce will only be granted based on some fault of the other spouse. You would need to demonstrate the effects of the illness are making it impossible for you to remain married.

In court

Appointing a guardian ad litem is often necessary when your spouse’s disability prevents them from making responsible decisions about personal affairs. A guardian ad litem must report to the court concerning the respondent's best interests. A guardian ad litem is trained to work with or advocate for people with mental deterioration along with an array of other physical and mental afflictions.

Watching and supporting your partner progress through a dementia diagnosis is a constant battle. How long to stay and when is it all right to go are decisions no spouse ever wants to make.

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