Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California: Divorce Guide

How to Divorce a Disabled Spouse in California

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to share with you How to Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California.

Being disabled physically or mentally poses an undoubted setback in a person’s life. Apart from the obvious physical issues that one can face while performing routine tasks, disabilities also cause hitches in one’s personal life. Being married to someone with a disability can be hard, however pure or strong the bond between the couple might be.

The financial and mental stress that is accompanied while being married to a disabled person is not up to everyone’s alley and that is why numerous couples decide to call it quits. It is crucial to keep in mind that divorcing a disabled spouse in California, or any other state for that matter is a more complex procedure owing to the additional finances and emotional complexity that the situation brings with it. 

Introduction: Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California


What happens if you divorce a disabled spouse? A divorce is an emotionally, economically and energy-draining process but it is especially hard if you have a disability.

People have the notion that disabled people are given preference while the state makes decisions during the divorce proceedings, which is not entirely true even though the court does look out for the best interest of the disabled person and accounts for all their care.

If you are on the other side of the situation i.e. if you divorce a disabled spouse, it can seem like a daunting task but it is crucial to remember that a well-researched approach and planned strategy with the help of your divorce attorney can ensure that you do not face any kind of neglect in court. This article specifically deals with the things to be kept in mind while divorcing a disabled spouse in California.

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Review Your Role in Their Life:

Review Your Role in Their Life

A married couple is expected to live together and thus in the case of a marriage with a disability, the healthier person may be responsible for helping the disabled spouse to fulfil his or her routine activities, which is why the first step while divorcing a disabled person is to analyze your role and value in their life in detail.

A list should be prepared to detail the various ways you are helping your disabled spouse varying from day-to-day activities like bathing, getting dressed, and going to doctor’s appointments to heavier responsibilities like paying for medical procedures, debts or loans, etc. 

The next step while divorcing a disabled person is to figure out if there is someone who can fill in your shoes after your separation. A family member is generally looked out for in situations like these. If there is no family member available for providing personal care to the disabled partner, hiring a part-time or a full-time caretaker can be looked into.

The expenses for the same should be calculated under your share of financial care for them. It is important to note that the earning and working potential of the disabled spouse is also accounted for while calculating their potential financial needs and the support that they will require from their ex-spouse to live comfortably.

The overall financial conditions of both parties, current personal income and earning potential are taken into consideration while making decisions regarding the division of shared or marital assets, alimony arrangements, etc. during divorcing a disabled spouse in California.

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Alimony Arrangements While Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California:

Alimony Arrangements While Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California

Alimony can be best understood as a sum of money that is required to be paid by one spouse to the other after divorce, as decided by the court. It is generally paid by the more financially stable spouse to the other and is also known as spousal support.

If you are divorcing a disabled spouse and you are the partner with a higher income, there is a high chance that the court will order you to continue paying for your partner’s medical needs and may even ask you to put him or her on your medical insurance while providing alimony for a disabled spouse to maintain their lifestyle. This is seen majorly in cases where the disabled person is completely dependent on his or her partner.

If you divorce a disabled spouse and you are financially less stable than your partner, you are entitled to alimony despite your partner’s disability. Generally, most judges in California use a standard formula while calculating said spousal support. If you’ve been married for ten years, you can expect to get standard alimony. It is also possible that a sum of money can be deducted from his or her disability benefits if they are entitled to any.

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Child Custody Battles While Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California:

Child Custody Battles While Divorcing a Disabled Spouse in California

Child custody battles can be defined as the fight for the legal guardianship of the child or children of a divorce. The person who assumes legal guardianship of the child generally ends up with the residential custody and also ends up making major life decisions for the childlike the school he or she attends, hospital care, etc.

The person who loses the child custody battle is allowed certain visitation privileges but there is a chance the visiting hours can be stripped to extremely low or even none and that is why child custody battles tend to be extremely cut-throat and competitive. It is important to note that child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child alone.

If you are divorcing a disabled spouse and have a child or children, do not think that you have an obvious upper hand in the custody battle. Disabilities indeed play a crucial role in child custody battles but they are only negative if they affect a parent’s ability to look after his or her kids or fail to provide for them and their needs.

If a disabled person has a steady source of income, with or without the help of alimony and is considered fit to take care of his or her children, there is no reason for the court to exempt them from the chance to raise their children. Divorcing a disabled person gives you no upper hand in the child custody battle on the foundation of just their disability.

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As mentioned before, divorce proceedings can be a hassle, more so if you are divorcing a disabled spouse. If the split is amicable, there is a possibility to avoid the numerous court sittings and get the attorneys to draft a marital settlement agreement that is agreed upon by both parties.

It is not unusual in amicable divorces that the financially more stable spouse willingly continues to pay for at least a fraction of the medical bills if not all of it or facilities a caretaker till something more permanent comes around.

It is important to note that a marital settlement agreement, even while divorcing a disabled person and after being agreed upon and signed by both parties, needs to be approved by a judge in order for the finalization of the divorce and the legal split of the couple.

Also Read – I am Disabled and My Husband Wants a Divorce: What to Do

Effect on Government Benefits:

Effect on Government Benefits

Many disabled people rely on their significant others for their financial needs. After divorcing a disabled person, there is a big shift in their lifestyle and finances and thus it is a smart move to look into government benefits and programs meant for disabled people. Following are the various programs meant for helping disabled people and how they get affected by divorcing a disabled person:

1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income and it is a government program based on an individual’s needs.

As discussed above, a huge fraction of disabled spouses is dependent on their significant others when it comes to finances and maintaining a decent lifestyle which can be disrupted in the case of a divorce.

After divorcing a disabled person, following the division of marital property and debts, alimony decisions, etc. the overall needs of the disabled spouses may still increase and thus the benefit from SSI can increase. It is crucial to keep in mind that provided SSI payments cannot be used to provide for child support or alimony after divorcing a disabled person.

2. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and is generally confused with Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The major difference between the two is that SSI is a need-based program while SSDI is a work-based program.

The benefits of SSDI don’t change after divorcing a disabled person. It should be kept in mind that resources from SSDI can be utilized to fund child support and alimony.

The eligibility criteria to avail of SSDI are extremely particular, numerous people are surprised to find out that they don’t fulfil these criteria. This can be because the candidate’s proper work experience or employment is not recent enough. Disabled candidates eligible to reap the benefits of Social Security Disability Insurance need to have a certain number of quarters based on their age.

In addition to that, it is compulsory for them to earn 20 quarters within the prior ten years, if the candidate is over the age of thirty. If you are divorcing a disabled person with the required work experience, you should definitely apply for SSDI.

3. Medicare:

Medicare is one of the most successful and popular government initiatives in the field of healthcare. It is extremely important healthcare insurance for disabled people as well who are receiving benefits from SSDI.

It also applies to people who have legal spouses who are at least sixty five and receive social security retirement income along with divorced spouses.

While divorcing a disabled person, it is best to look into these resources and if they are already being availed, it should be figured out how the input into these projects will be taken care of after the separation.

Also Read – Marital Settlement Agreement vs Divorce Decree (Comparison) 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Frequently Asked Questions

Some frequently asked questions about divorcing a disabled spouse in California have been discussed below:

1. What Happens If You Divorce a Disabled Spouse?

The divorce process is almost the same except for the added complications of the finances of the medical expenses of the disabled spouse which are generally very steep and the healthy spouse’s contribution to it.

2. If I Am Divorcing a Disabled Person, Will the Judge Favour Him Over Meowing to His Disabilities?

No, there is no such preference given to people on the sole foundation of their disabilities. All their needs and concerns are taken up in court but no direct preference is given to them while making decisions like division of assets, alimony arrangements, child custody and child support, etc.

3. Are disabled people seen unfit by the court during child custody battles in California?

Decisions of child custody battles are made on the sole basis of the best interests of the child.

If you are divorcing a disabled person and he or she has the correct resources to provide for himself or herself along with all the needs of the kids and their disability does not harm their ability to raise his or her children, there is no reason that the court will automatically give them a setback in a child custody battle. 

4. What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSID?

SSI stands for Supplemental security income while SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. Both these are government-operated programs that aim at helping disabled people financially, owing to the setback caused to their working abilities and earning potential due to their disabilities. Both these schemes should be looked into while divorcing a disabled person.

The major difference between both is that SSI is a need-based program and almost any disabled person can apply to it while SSDI streamlines its candidates by being a work-based program. SSDI aims at people with recent work experience.

5. Is It a Given That Alimony for Disabled Spouses Will Be Approved in Court?

Alimony or spousal support is provided on the grounds of many strict criteria. Alimony for disabled spouses will not be awarded only on the basis of their disabilities. Even if you are divorcing a disabled person, current dependency, personal income, length of the marriage, earning potential and need, etc. and considered for determining whether a case is eligible for alimony or not.

If it is approved, then disability plays a role in determining the amount to be paid as disabled people have extra expenses apart from lifestyle such as medical bills and equipment, fees for doctor’s appointments, etc.

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Ending the Article:

Divorce is a devastating process for everyone involved. If you are divorcing a disabled person, your situation might be more complicated than you would want it to be. It is crucial to keep one’s calm in situations like these.

You should surround yourself with people you love and trust during these hard times. Sitting down with one’s lawyer and hashing out all the details surrounding the divorce is crucial. Having a well-planned approach to this can make this difficult process more tolerable.

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