An elderly relative has advanced dementia and the spouse (of 3 years) wants to “send him back” to the family and discontinue to care for him.

What are the legal ramifications with respect to Social Security, Pension, IRA payments in the name of the “abandoned” spouse? Is this considered divorce? State is Florida.

Asked on May 26, 2009 under Family Law, Massachusetts


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Abandonment is not considered divorce; it could be a reason for divorce.  If the gentleman has advanced dementia, I am assuming the ss, the pension, etc., were named with beneficiary being the new wife before he became incompetent or too sick to care for himself? In terms of an abandoned spouse, every state is different and how these funds came to be, how long ago, how long she has been married to him (so what percentage would go to her), etc. all need to be reviewed in person with a divorce lawyer in Florida. Doe he have a power of attorney -- who is it? The wife? If so, will be difficult to get anyone else to file for divorce.  You may need to have another family member start from the bottom (making sure to get a proper POA that doesn't include the spouse, and go from there). 

Try and then check his or her record at the Florida State Bar.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.