Divorcing a chronically ill spouse
It was recently reported that a Thai man divorced his wife after finding out that she had terminal breast cancer.
Ms Wiramon Inthaneth found out that she had breast cancer about half a year ago. After she and her daughter were abandoned by her husband, they started living with her father.
Given her condition, she is no longer able to work. Ms Inthaneth is in much pain and she needs to make daily trips to the hospital. Her father tries to pay for her treatment, even though he earns a low and unstable income as a taxi driver.
A Thai holyman, Monk Bhin, now supports the family by offering money. He is also raising funds for the family.
According to Monk Bhin, Ms Inthaneth is having a very difficult time caring for her daughter. He added that she is alive because of her family.
See: Natalie Evans, “Callous husband divorces wife after she discovers she’s dying from gruesome untreated breast cancer”, Mirror, 7 March 2017
In my years of practice, I have seen some divorces where spouse A divorces spouse B because spouse B is chronically ill.
How does spouse go about divorcing a chronically ill spouse B? Theoretically, it is not wrong to be chronically ill. However, the illness could result in spouse B’s failure to live up to the expectations of spouse A. In such cases, depending on the circumstances, spouse A may have the right to go about divorcing a chronically ill spouse B based on spouse B’s “unreasonable behaviour”.
It may also be possible for spouse A to go about divorcing a chronically ill spouse B using the reason of separation. The parties may be sleeping in separate bedrooms as a result of spouse B’s illness. Over a period of time, parties may form the intention to divorce and proceed to use the reason of separation for the divorce.
As a divorce lawyer in Singapore, I do not enjoy seeing marriages fall apart because of one spouse’s chronic illness.
Hopefully, Ms Inthaneth recovers soon. Her family needs her.
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