Divorce in the Wake of a Major Life Event

Fox News recently ran a story about Rebekah Gregory, young woman who lost her leg because of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Ms. Gregory and her husband – also a survivor – married in 2014, but they announced in February that they would divorce. In the Fox News story, the writer discusses a number of life-changing scenarios that can lead to the end of a marriage, such as loss of employment or a serious illness, showing us that while Ms. Gregory’s story is sad, it is not terribly uncommon.

When a major life event leads to the dissolution of your marriage, it is especially important that you seek guidance from professionals. This is because these unexpected experiences come with consequences that a “normal” divorce might not. For example: if one spouse is suffering with a serious illness or injury, the accumulated medical debts – as well as the cost of anticipated prescriptions and treatments – could affect how that couple’s property is divided. Or if one spouse loses his or her job without warning, that non-working spouse could be granted spousal support by the court – an award that might not have been granted before the job loss.

Major life events can also create complications for couples who were already in the process of divorcing one another. It is probable that both people already feel anger, anxiety, guilt or frustration – or any combination of emotions. The stress of a sudden trauma or outside event can exacerbate these feelings and tensions, leading a couple in the midst of an amicable dissolution more likely to withdraw or lash out – and causing a couple whose divorce was already contentious to become even more combative.

Finding the help you need

Remember, however, that scenarios like these are possible but not required; there is no one set way to handle your divorce procedure or to cope with a major life event, whether that event is negative or positive. But if you are under additional stress from an unexpected change in your life, you should seek help from a skilled divorce lawyer and your doctor. Speaking to a grief counselor may also benefit those couples who are processing a sudden loss. Finally, you should speak to an accountant (if you have not already done so) about any changes in your finances because of the event, so that you and your attorney can take a realistic look at what your future might be like based on your new circumstances.

Some couples grow closer together in the wake of major life events, and some grow apart. There is no right or wrong response to dealing with tragedy, like that of Ms. Gregory, or even with more positive changes such as coming into a large sum of money or the birth of a child. Seeking help from a supportive network of professionals can help you through the process.

For more information about Maryland’s divorce process, or to find out how your future could be affected by a change in your financial status, we invite you to contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A.