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Illinois families at higher risk of divorce when wife becomes ill

A joint study from Purdue and Iowa State Universities suggests marriages may be subject to greater strain and a higher likelihood of divorce when the wife confronts severe or chronic illness. According to the study, the health or lack thereof of the husband has no bearing on the overall divorce risk. The findings have implications for families in Illinois and across the nation regarding how spousal health and the attendant strains may impact marriage.

In the 18-year Health and Retirement Study, couples with at least one partner aged 51 or older were monitored. The onset of illnesses such as lung and heart disease or cancer in the wife increased the risk of divorce by 6 percent over that of the average population. The study did not answer the question of which spouse was statistically more likely to file for divorce, but one of the study's authors believes it might be the women themselves due to lack of satisfaction with the care they receive from their husbands.

According to the study, of the over 2,000 marriages tracked from the study's inception in 1992 until 2010, 24 percent terminated in widowhood, and another 32 percent ended in divorce. Marriages with younger spouses were more likely to end in divorce while the likelihood of widowhood increased as couples grew older together.

A family law attorney may begin divorce proceedings by evaluating the overall character of family life and underlying reasons for the action. The attorney might work with the client to establish a settlement, which includes spousal and child support as well as an equitable division of marital assets. If the settlement is approved by the other spouse and counsel, the attorney may petition the court to use the settlement as the final divorce decree.

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