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I have a elderly friend in a SNF that wants to get a divorce from his wife. She's the reason he's in there in the first place. He has told social services there but they won't get into family dynamics. I have heard of people getting married in a nursing home but not a divorce. Anybody know how to go about this?

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What does he intend to do once he is divorced? Will he stay in the NH? Does he need a caregiver? Nursing homes don't accept people who don't need nursing care. What kind of care does your friend need?

About 60% of the people in nursing homes have dementia. Does your friend have dementia?

I think it is very kind of you to be concerned about your friend and to look into things for him. If you are relying on his account of things you may not be getting a full and accurate account. For example, his wife is the reason he is there. Do you mean she pushed him down the stairs and now he can't walk? She refuses to bring in some outside help so he could stay at home? She cannot continue to care for him alone and wants him to get good care? His version may not totally match her version!

If he is competent to make his own decisions (no cognitive issues that would prevent this) then he would go about getting a divorce as anyone else would. Get a lawyer. Have the lawyer investigate the financial consequences. Make a final decision. Have the lawyer proceed with the legal process.

Most states also have an option of representing yourself and not going through a lawyer. That may work IF both parties agree to the divorce and have been able to work out the distribution of assets. Would your friend be able to handle the paperwork?

Is Medicaid involved in paying for the NH?
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If he is competent, I'd advise him to consult with a Family Law attorney in his jurisdiction. It might help if the attorney is well versed on Elder Law matters too. There may be consequences of a divorce that could effect him financially. He needs to be aware of this. A legal consultation would be enable him to get information regarding his rights and obligations. I would ask what benefit that he would receive from the divorce and if there are any risks.
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Usually a skilled nursing home will not take a patient unless they are approved to need skilled nursing care. Thus, that is the reason this man's wife has her husband in a nursing home... he needs a higher level of care than she can give him at home.

If you friend is of sound mind, he might be able to leave the nursing home at any time and go live on his own. But could he? Bet he can't.

Thus, a divorce won't solve the issue of him being in a nursing home.
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