Separation and divorce are increasingly common among seniors. From pensions to placement in assisted living facilities, these splits hold unique repercussions for older couples. Not all complications involve retirement, however. If your spouse is suffering from dementia, you face an especially difficult separation process. Read on for insight into this unique situation — and helpful suggestions:

Consider Skipping Mediation

Mental capacity is critical in mediation. Your spouse may not be capable of making critical decisions regarding property division and alimony — and the lack of aggressive legal representation is a hallmark of mediation. Keep in mind that mental capacity is not an all-or-nothing concept; your spouse may be capable of handling this process under close guidance from a legal professional, but perhaps not in mediation. Your lawyer can provide greater insight into the concept of capacity and how it plays into your specific case.

The Possibility of Annulment

Depending on when you married and your spouse’s condition at the time, you could be eligible for annulment. While Minnesota is a ‘no fault’ state lacking grounds for divorce, annulment is based on grounds. If you can prove that your spouse was mentally incapacitated when you tied the knot, then your spouse legally could never consent to marriage in the first place — so your marriage is not valid.

Custody Considerations

Few spouses with dementia have minor children. Those who do can expect custody to fall with the healthy parent. Minnesota courts take each party’s physical and mental health into account when determining custody; a spouse with moderate to severe dementia may not be deemed capable of handling the rigors of parenting.

Protect Your Assets

Your spouse may require months, if not years, of medical care in the near future. Divorce can protect your retirement savings from being siphoned away to pay for this treatment. Speak with a trusted family law attorney and financial advisor to understand the financial ramifications of the care burden—and plan accordingly.

Separation is always tough, but dementia can quickly complicate matters. Your lawyer should advocate assertively on your behalf, but also be sympathetic to your spouse’s difficult situation. Work with a trusted law firm such as the Brown Law Offices to ensure the best outcome for both you and your ex.

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Photo of Jason Brown Jason Brown

Jason Brown founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003 after working for several years as an associate attorney in downtown Minneapolis. He graduated, with honors, from Mankato State University, Mankato in 1997 and the William Mitchell College of Law in 2000.

Jason…

Jason Brown founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003 after working for several years as an associate attorney in downtown Minneapolis. He graduated, with honors, from Mankato State University, Mankato in 1997 and the William Mitchell College of Law in 2000.

Jason has successfully litigated against some of the more recognized family law attorneys in the Twin Cities. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters, and one of the Top 100 Family Law Attorneys in Minnesota by the Society of Legal Advocates.

In addition to his work as a lawyer, Jason serves as a mediator, and court-appointed early neutral evaluator, in divorce and family law cases throughout Minnesota. He frequently writes and speaks concerning divorce and family law issues, including several invitations to present seminars for the Minnesota Judicial Branch in St. Paul.

Beyond family law, Jason has represented hundreds of clients accused of a serious crime, including arson, fraud, unauthorized computer access, burglary, felony strangulation and obstruction of justice. He also provides estate planning services.

Local media appearances by Jason include WCCO Radio, KARE 11 Television, Fox 9 Television and WCCO Television. His national media appearances include NBC News, Time Magazine, USA Today and the Huffington Post.

Jason is the former chairperson of the Family Law Section of the Minnesota Trial Lawyer’s Association, and taught divorce and family law coursework within the paralegal program at North Hennepin Community College. He publishes the Minnesota Family Law Blog, which has been recognized as a “Top 25″ by the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Outside of the office, Jason enjoys playing the bass and electric guitar and spending time in the north woods of Wisconsin.


Areas of Practice
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Adoption
  • Restraining Orders
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Criminal Defense
  • Estate Planning
Notable Cases
  • Representation of Four Grandparents in Minnesota’s First Quad-Parenting Adoption
  • Representation of Client in Minnesota’s First Same-Sex Divorce
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota State Bar, 2000
  • US District Court – District of Minnesota, 2002
Education
  • William Mitchell College of Law, 2000
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato, 1997
Joined Firm
  • 2003
Professional Associations & Activities
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Presenter, Various CLE Courses
  • Monthly Columnist, Minnesota Lawyer Newspaper