Is my father considered legally seperated from his wife?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Lynna205 asked...

My father remarried in 2003, I explained before they were married that my Dad has Alzheimer's. In late 2008 my Dad was kicked out of the senior living apartment because of violence toward another resident. I moved my Dad to Nevada to live with my family. (was living in Illinois) I tried to get his wife to move with us but she declined. They have been seperated since 12/01/2008. Are they considered legally seperated? There is no child, money or property. My Dad can no longer remember his wife--hasn't for about 2 years now. He also can no longer sign his name to legal papers. He can make a very sloppy X with much coaxing as his "signature". I am in the process of getting guardianship. My problem is the Veteran's Affairs. They used her income to base their decision on getting Aid and Attendance (Dad is full time care). Why are they not taking the fact that they haven't lived together as proof of seperation?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Many agencies and institutions"”particularly government benefit agencies such as the VA"”overlook the heart and reality of a couple who are separated and insist that there be a "legal separation ”that is a formal decree from a court that proclaims they are legally separated. It doesn't matter that the two have not spoken in a long time. It's irrelevant that they live in different places. And this can often frustrate attempts to get benefits that would seem to be due.

If you haven't done so already, consider calling the VA's Healthcare Benefits at 877-222-8387 for specific advice on whether the court decree of a legal separation is required.

If so, it seems quite possible that your dad's wife might consent to changing their legal status to separated"”or even agree to file for divorce.

It might also be worth your while to consult with a counselor from the Senior Veterans Service Alliance: This service does not deal directly with advocating for benefits, but helps senior vets manage their remaining resources. Counselors there may be able to direct you to other veterans benefits that may be of help. Do not sign up for services without knowing exactly what the counselor can and cannot do"”and whether those services are likely to further your dad's cause.