Standard marriage vows tend to include a line outlining someone’s commitment to remain married regardless of their health and financial circumstances. However, sometimes people experience such extreme changes in lifestyle or health that divorce may begin to seem like the only viable solution.
For example, one spouse might get diagnosed with dementia or a condition like Alzheimer’s disease. That diagnosis puts the healthier spouse in a very difficult position. They may question whether they should remain married and if divorce is a possibility in their situation. Some people think they cannot legally divorce if their spouse lacks the legal capacity to sign paperwork.
Does the law in Montana allow for divorce in a situation where one spouse either has become or will become permanently incapacitated?
Montana has no-fault divorce laws
Some states allow people to divorce for cause. They can prove infidelity or other issues in court and ask a judge to end their marriage because of those challenges. Montana only requires that one spouse no longer wishes to remain married. Therefore, there is no set of specific reasons that justify divorce nor scenarios in which divorce is absolutely impossible. A spouse experiencing dementia is one scenario in which people could reasonably claim that they wish to end a marriage.
Some people feel guilty about planning a divorce with a spouse in decline. However, there are many valid reasons to consider divorcing a spouse with dementia. Being young and healthy with a desire to live a happy life is one such justification. People may also recognize that their resources as a healthy spouse could keep the individual with dementia from accessing the resources available for someone experiencing cognitive decline and other significant medical challenges. Divorce might theoretically help someone more easily qualify for state benefits that can pay for nursing home care and other types of support that will improve their quality of life.
Some divorces can be more challenging than others
An individual contemplating divorce after learning about their spouse’s health struggles or dementia diagnosis will likely have many questions about the best way to manage the process. It takes an understanding of the law to maximize the protection of both spouses and optimize the outcome of a divorce related to a recent dementia diagnosis.
Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and support can make a big difference for those facing a heartbreaking situation, like a spouse’s diagnosis with dementia.