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Illness more likely to lead to divorce when a wife gets sick

Issues like financial difficulties or sickness can strain a marriage, and a recent study conducted by researchers at two Midwestern universities tracked how often one of these problems led to divorce. Couples in Virginia and other states are more likely to divorce when a spouse gets sick but only if the spouse is a woman.

Researchers used data from 1992 to 2010 to track serious illnesses in 2,701 marriages and whether the illness led to divorce or death. The result published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicated that the risk of divorce does not increase if a husband becomes ill, but marriages are 6 percent more likely to end in divorce when a woman develops an illness.

The study did not determine who was more likely to initiate divorce proceedings when a wife became sick, but a researcher involved in the study said men might not always be the ones to seek it. Since men are not generally expected or taught to be caregivers, women are sometimes not satisfied with the standard of care offered by their husbands. The financial burden put on a couple when one partner cannot work likely contributed to some divorces. Providing assistance to a sick relative is also known to be a problem for couples, but this usually occurs when a couple must take care of someone else like a partner's sick parent.

Regardless of the reason a couple chooses to dissolve a marriage, many decisions need to be taken care of during a divorce. Spouses must divide property, assets and debts, and those with children must work out a custody plan. One spouse may also be entitled to alimony or spousal support, and an illness may change the amount of support one partner needs.

Source: Deseret News, "Divorce more likely when wife has serious illness", Lois M. Collins, March 6, 2015

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