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Separating with a disability and no financial independence

Community Member
I have been married for 13 years - I am Italian and let my Australian husband in Europe. When we met, I was very independent: had a secure job, a car, etc. We moved to Australia a few years ago with our children.
In those 13 years, I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
I increasingly had to reduce my activity to a point where I have become completely financially dependent on my husband.
Following the diagnosis and because of the feeling of entrapment, isolation etc I have suffered from anxiety and depression - my husband also works long hours and I have grown apart from him and am thinking of separating.
However, I am really concerned it might not be possible as I can’t afford a lawyer and have no idea how I would support myself financially and live with such disability by myself far from my Italian family.
Has anyone been in the same situation or have any advice/suggestion?
Thanks for your help.
7 Replies 7

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear LeelouSydney72~

I'd like to welcome you here and am very sorry that you have contracted that condition. I've watched two members of my family who were struck with the disease and had wondered if it was going to be passed on to me, fortunately that does not appear to be the case.

I do understand that improvements have been made in medication and the symptoms may be more under control. I'd image you already have contacted a support group such as Parkinson's Australia, it's always good not to try to deal with things in isolation.

I can well imaging that when you fully realized what was happening it would have made a profound change in your attitude to life, and as time has gone on the gradual erosion of ability will have added frustration too.

Such feelings can of course color all aspects of life. I would like to ask a couple of questions so as to try to talk more intelligently, please don't think you should answer if you don't feel comfortable doing so.

The first is why you wish to leave home, your husband and children? Are they difficult to live with and give you a hard time or is it something else?

The other is do you have competent medical support for the psychological effects of Parkinsons? I'd imagine this includes anxiety and depression, both of which were apparent in my family members.

Apart from your husband and children are you in contact with the rest of your family? While Italy can seem an awful long way away at least it might be possible to see and speak with them using programs such as Sykpe.

I know I've not answered your questions about living independently in this particular message, it is a difficult matter. I hope to talk with you again soon.


Community Member

Hello LeelouSydney.

I'm really sorry that you are going through this. It must be really tough and I can hear that you're unsure what to do.

I am not personally very familiar with such a situation. But I wanted to suggest that you contact Legal Aid NSW as I think they can provide advice/information about the separation process, finances etc.

Also, I would contact Centrelink to see if you could be entitled to a benefit, given that you can't work due to the Parkinson's disease.

One more thing, in terms of caring for yourself in the future, I would have a chat to your GP about accessing the NDIS. It can help you access the supports you need to live as independently as possible with your illness.

I hope this helps and is not too overwhelming. I just want to give you reassurance that there are options out there. I wish I could help you more.

Take care,

Alexlisa x

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Leelou72,

I’m sorry to hear about your situation, it can be hard enough thinking about separating without the added worry of your health/Parkinson’s. Like Croix said, I think it’s important to examine the reasons you are contemplating separating to ensure this is really where the problem lays. Being diagnosed and living with a serious medical condition can take its toll and sometimes daily life can get on top of you. I’m not trying to talk you out of your decision, I just want to make sure that this is what you really want and you think your relationship cannot be salvaged.

If you are serious about separating, I think the important thing is to develop a plan for you - the others have offered good advice, I would contact LegalAid and Centrelink regarding th NDIS and see what is available to you. I’m not sure what you did for work previously, but you may be able to work part-time or think of jobs that are more accommodating of PD? There are some jobs that enable you to work from home, or you may be able to upskill with an online course? Would you ever consider moving back to Italy to be around your family?

Dear Croix,

grazie Mille for your lengthy and helpful answer. I will try to answer your questions.

I am thinking of leaving my husband because I have fallen out of love with him / grown apart from him. I don’t want to leave my children whom I love to bits. I am trying to organise couple therapy and I am seeing a psychologist.

i am also in regular contact with my family though only one member knows if my thoughts.

Thank you

Dear AlexLisa,

Grazie Mille for some extremely useful advice.

i shall absolutely look into it all.


Dear Juliet,

Grazie Mille for taking the time.

Though I would love to go back to Italy, I would not separate my children from their father so would try and stay nearby.

Thank you!!

Dear LeelouSydney72~

Non c'è di che.

Please excuse me if I am direct. Having seen two member of my family with Parkinsons I've come to realize that the disease becomes progressively more physically limiting. Those people needed more and more day to day help as they stopped being able to do things. They also became more depressed and emotional, though I'm not sure if the was because of their illness or their situation.

This is the reason I asked why you wished to leave your husband. To be honest the people I'm talking about needed family support as well as medical and day-care. I'm worried you are planning on cutting yourself off from that support and will later on really need it.

Also if you are in a fragile emotional state (as my relatives were) it might seem easier to break away.

I am no expert on Parkinsons, and perhaps my family members were not typical. Perhaps also you have considered all this, if so I apologize for bring it up.

I am glad you can talk frankly with one member of your family, it is terrible to be alone in such circumstances.

You have received good advice and support from Juliet and Alexlisa. I hope you continue to come and discuss your options - and difficulties - here, you are very welcome.