Getting an Arizona Divorce While Your Spouse Is in a Nursing Home

Scottsdale family law firm provides sound guidance in complex cases involving spouses in care homes

There are many complicated financial issues to consider when divorcing a spouse who is in a nursing home. At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C., in Scottsdale, our attorneys understand the unique complexities inherent in these cases and provide skilled advice and sound guidance to help Arizona residents navigate the process.     

Why consider divorce if your spouse needs to go to a nursing home?

Nursing home care is expensive and, if money isn’t available to pay for it out of pocket, Medicaid may be available to cover costs. However, to be eligible for Medicaid, assets and income must be under a specific limit. The applicant spouse’s income is considered for eligibility, but marital assets are also considered. So, sometimes divorcing can look like a viable option to protect assets when one spouse requires long-term care and the other one does not. Our family law attorneys can answer your questions if you are considering divorcing because your spouse needs to go to a nursing home.     

Can a divorce protect assets if your spouse goes to a nursing home?

Sometimes people get what is known as a Medicaid divorce to protect their assets. The idea is that some of the couple’s assets will be transferred to the non-applicant spouse and, as a result, will reduce the assets figured into Medicaid eligibility for the applicant spouse. This might be a good option for certain couples, but in some cases, there may be better ways to protect your assets while also getting the Medicaid applicant spouse the long-term care they need. We can advise you based on your unique financial and personal circumstances.

How does asset division work in Arizona?

Arizona is a community property state, meaning assets that are considered marital property are generally divided 50/50 in divorce. Assets that are the sole property of one spouse or the other are not included in this split. Sometimes assets that were the sole property of one person at the time of the marriage can become comingled and will then be considered marital property. The challenge if one spouse is in a nursing home can be that, because assets are equally divided, there may be no benefit to a Medicaid divorce. Our law firm can assess your situation and counsel you about property division, including keeping a house in divorce and providing other possible legal options for protecting assets.

Legal options for asset protection and family care

Our attorneys can counsel you about alternate options for protecting assets while also getting your spouse the care they need. Some options include trusts, Medicaid-compliant annuities, life-estates and long-term care insurance. Many of these options require advance planning, so speaking with an attorney as early on as possible is wise. Your spouse in the nursing home should also have legal documents in place that describe what decisions they want made for their healthcare in case of incapacitation. If there are younger children of a spouse who is in a nursing home, they may be cared for by the other parent. If that parent is unable to care for them, a guardian may be appointed to take over parental responsibilities.

Sometimes divorce is the right option

Sometimes, aside from financial concerns, divorce may be the right option when one spouse is in a nursing home for long-term care. Every couple’s situation is different, but other reasons for divorce could include:

  • Problems in the marriage prior to the need for nursing home care
  • The emotional and psychological well-being of both spouses
  • The challenges of being separated on a long-term basis
  • A large age difference between spouses

There can be challenges to divorcing a spouse in a nursing home. For example, if the person is mentally incompetent, then a guardian may need to be appointed to represent their interests. We can advise you how to proceed with your situation.

Contact a respected Scottsdale divorce attorney for answers to your questions

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale helps clients understand their options for divorce and asset protection in Arizona when one spouse needs nursing home care. To schedule a consultation call 602-789-3497 or contact us online.