Divorcing An Alzheimer’s Patient
Are you married to someone who requires care beyond your capacity to give? If you are living with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, you may feel overwhelmed. This degenerative disease has changed your loved one into someone you no longer recognize. The once loving, calm, and caring individual you shared your life with has become forgetful. Angry, and even violent with you. You want to get out of the marriage; but you are overwhelmed with guilt. What should you do?
It is impossible to really understand Alzheimer’s Disease. What we know is that there are more than 6 million sufferers in this country, and it is predicted that about one-third of seniors will ultimately suffer some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Currently, over 11 million caregivers are devoting unpaid time and love to these sufferers, devoting 15 billion hours to their care annually. The disease progresses with time. The early symptoms—forgetting names, misplacing keys and glasses—can be irritating, but is tolerable. Middle stage Alzheimer’s finds patients unable to recite phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays. They may be unable to find their way to the local grocery store or be able to figure out what to wear on a rainy day. They may experience increasing frustration, as well as episodes of paranoia and delusions. As time goes on, there may be increasing episodes of violence. Ultimately, the patient will likely lose the ability to communicate, to walk, or to even sit without assistance. Their bodies become more susceptible to infections, and pneumonia becomes a serious risk. The toll on caregivers increases exponentially, as the mental, physical, and emotional demands grow. Thoughts of divorce may arise.
When a person lives in fear of their spouse, it is only natural to want an escape. Maryland allows for divorce on the grounds of insanity, but the criteria is pretty stiff:
- The patient must be confined in an institution for three years prior to filing for divorce;
- Two physicians must testify as to the irreversibility of the condition;
- One of the spouses must have been a resident for at least two years prior to filing for divorce.
It’s possible the court will appoint a guardian in order to look out for the best interests of the patient in the event a divorce occurs. Considerations regarding the patient’s care will be paramount moving forward. Ultimately, it is possible to get the divorce, but not without a lot of time, consideration, paperwork, and decision making.
Compassionate Legal Advice
A divorce under these circumstances is unique and requires not only legal experience and acumen; it demands the compassion and humanity that can be found at the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes. It is possible to start over, while still treating your former spouse with love and dignity. To discuss your priorities, schedule a confidential consultation with our Baltimore family lawyers today.