Going Through an Illness While Separated From Your Spouse

When you get married, one of the vows you make to your spouse is to stick it out through sickness and health. But some illnesses can be a serious stressor on a marriage, especially if the healthy spouse takes on the caregiver role. In fact, nearly one-third of marriages end during a major sickness.

Going through a separation is complex enough under simple circumstances, but throw in a serious illness, and the logistics become even more challenging to traverse. For instance, do you know where your health insurance policy is located? What about life insurance? If you're ill, can you take care of your children? Do you have a custody agreement for them, and is it being followed by the other spouse? Additionally, if your spouse left because of your illness, you may be entitled to a divorce from bed and board.

Divorce from Bed and Board

A divorce from bed and board is a legal separation in North Carolina. In order for a court to award it, the court must find that one of the following scenarios to have occurred:

  • One spouse abandoned the other.
  • One spouse kicked the other spouse out of their marital home.
  • One spouse committed adultery.
  • A spouse committed acts of domestic violence.
  • A spouse excessively used drugs or alcohol.
  • The court found proof of other acts that degraded and humiliated a spouse – like abusive language or neglect.


Spousal abandonment occurs when one spouse stops living with the other without any justification or incitement and with no intent to resume the relationship. Besides physical abandonment, courts also consider constructive abandonment as a ground for divorce from bed and board. Constructive abandonment arises from extensive acts or omissions by one spouse while both spouses still live together

If your spouse has left because of your illness, that is not a justification for abandonment, even if they believe it is and would entitle you to a legal separation. Furthermore, under North Carolina law, if your spouse supports you and willfully abandons you without providing you with sufficient support, they could be subject to criminal charges.

Experienced North Carolina Family Attorneys Can Help

Going through an illness is overwhelming, but doing so without your spouse's emotional and physical support can be downright scary. The attorneys at Caulder & Valentine have years of experience working in North Carolina family law and helping spouses navigate all the complexities of separation. They will help you create a separation agreement that endeavors to protect you during your illness. The attorneys will work vigilantly to track down and organize your health and life insurance policies, ensure you have sufficient support, and create a custody agreement that both parties are amenable to. Contact their Shelby and Gastonia offices today or call 704.470.2440 to schedule a consultation.