Can a Disability Affect a Divorce?

A women in a wheelchair making a salad in the kitchen

When a couple divorces and one spouse has a disability, this presents a special area of consideration when it comes to resolving a multitude of legal issues that come at the end of a marriage. This includes a parent’s disability concerning requests for alimony, child custody determinations, and disability income from the government. It is essential to speak with a family law attorney to appropriately address these issues and exercise your legal rights.


According to Nevada’s alimony laws, two of the factors courts are required to consider when determining awards of alimony include:

  • ”The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse”; and
  • “The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.”

When a dependent spouse has a disability that prevents them from working or requires ongoing medical care, courts are permitted to consider the financial needs of the disabled spouse when making an award of alimony. Spouses with disabilities must prevent evidence to the court of their disability, how it impacts their ability to earn a sufficient income, and the expenses associated with the disability. Courts will also consider numerous other factors—including the length of the marriage—when determining the amount and duration of alimony.

SSI and SSDI Income

Some spouses who are disabled have qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) to supplement their income. When a spouse collects SSI, a court cannot consider this income for support obligations. In contrast, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) can be considered for purposes of alimony and child support obligations.  Other rules and protections apply to military related disability income. For example, a military member may be able to convert a portion of their federal pension into disability income, which has different tax implications and special protections pursuant to federal law.

Also, in addressing community property, SSI and SSDI are not generally considered marital assets for purposes of property division. However, this income can become a marital asset if it is deposited into a joint bank account and thereby “comingled” with marital assets.

Child Custody

A parent’s disability can also come into play when a court makes child custody determinations. Courts are tasked with making these decisions based on a child’s “best interest”, which can include the mental and physical health of a parent. Essentially, if one parent is mentally or physically disabled in a manner that prevents them from providing adequate care for a child, then a court may contrast this in favor of a parent who can meet the child’s needs.

Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. is Here for You

If you or your spouse is disabled and your marriage is ending, contact Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. There are significant legal implication that a disability has on a divorce and we can help you resolve these issues well. Our attorneys are smart, compassionate professionals who have a proven record of success. Let us help you. Call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule a case consultation or contact our office through our website.

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