Divorce and Dementia

Having practiced law in the area of Domestic Relations I can attest that the divorce rate among the elderly is increasing. Divorce lawyers are seeing couples divorce after 30 years of marriage. In the past year I have seen divorce after 48 years and one after 39. In each instance the attorney and the family and possibly the guardian need to be aware of the effects of early dementia or early onset Alzheimer’s as causes for the break-up. It is popular for comedians to blame Viagra and it has come into play but most often it is the change in personalities that comes with the aging process that leads life partners to become unstable.

I actually filed a guardianship action that was thwarted by the wife when she hired an attorney who complained for divorce. The divorce action trumped the guardianship sought by the husband and the very adult children each took sides. The reality was a bitter fight disposing of a lifetime of assets.  Throughout the process the mental illness of the wife was present but divorce courts are reluctant to pursue a request for a competency exam. The facts must be extreme to derail a divorce by raising mental illness because of a stroke or dementia.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

2 Responses to Divorce and Dementia

  1. John says:

    Mr. Engler,

    My parents are currently seperated after 48 years of marriage because of severe mistrust, inability to communicate with one another and (I’m no psychologist) neurotic behavior bordering on paranoia.

    I believe my father is suffering early Alzheimer’s AND my mother is extremely neurotic, completely mistrusting and obsessive. They have tried counseling but to no avail. I believe they must seek seperate living arrangements if the family is going to survive intact.

    My dilemma (as oldest son) is that they will be seeking divorce in a traditional fashion…duking it out….demanding assets, etc. to a painful and impoverished conclusion when…..but for their mental conditions….they wouldn’t be divorcing at all.

    My mother is currently staying in Liberty Township (Youngstown). My father is in their home in Loveland, Ohio. Do you think we can negotiate some legal arrangement (perhaps short of divorce). Splitting assets 50/50 with seperate living arrangements?

    I would send my mom to see you since she’s close.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    John Thomas

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