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Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
  • Milford 203-783-1200
  • westport 203-227-9545
  • Norwalk 203-853-7997

To have and to hold, in sickness and in health?

We have long understood that the emotional and legal processes of divorce can sometimes take a toll on a person's health. What has been less understood is how a person's state of health can affect the divorce rate.

That is, when a husband or wife falls ill, are their marriages more likely to end in divorce, less likely, or is there no change in the divorce rate? That question has been, in part, answered by a recent study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the study of older couples (age 50 and above) is that sickness does indeed drive the divorce rate up -- when it is the wife who becomes ill. When the husband falls ill, there is no change in the divorce rate.

Before anyone draws a lot of conclusions about the study's findings, it should be noted that the researchers did not ask which spouse instigated the divorces. So we don't know if it tended to be the husbands or the wives, and we don't know what the motivations were for ending the marriages.

The lead researcher noted that illness places a number of stresses on a marriage, often placing the heavy burdens of primary caregiver and sole supporter of the household on the healthy spouse. One of the major predictors of divorce is, of course, financial difficulties.

The authors of the study noted that in some cases, divorces might have been initiated by women who were dissatisfied with the level of care given them by husbands who were either uncomfortable in the role of caregiver, or untrained in giving care after having been raised and taught traditional male values and skills.

It goes without saying that adding a divorce on top of the stresses brought about by illness would make life even more difficult. In those situations, the choice of family law attorney is even more crucial than usual, with a premium placed on experienced counsel that can help clients navigate the legal process.

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Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
75 Broad Street
Milford, CT 06460
Phone: 203-783-1200
Fax: 203-878-2235
Milford Law Office Map

Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
1221 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
Phone: 203-227-9545
Fax: 203-226-1641
Westport Law Office Map

Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
9 Morgan Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
Phone: 203-853-7997
Fax: 203-866-2818
Norwalk Law Office Map