Sometimes, divorces tear people apart. Other times, the time separated can lead to reconciliation years later. Take, for example, a news article about a man who had been divorced from his ex-wife for eight years before finding out he had brain cancer.

At that stage, his ex-wife started to take care of him. She took over providing him with medications, taking him to doctor’s visits and even going to support groups with him. Many don’t understand why she would do this, but she put it simply: The man is the father to her children, and he’s part of their lives.

Caregiving can be difficult for those who are exes, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, after looking into 21 ex-spouse caregivers, a study by the University of Missouri found that most assumed the role for their children’s sake.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all people divorce because of a poor relationship or because of something as serious as adultery. Many marriages end over finances. In the case of a spouse who falls ill, divorcing might be the only way to allow the spouse without an illness to keep all the marital assets. Then, the ex-spouse with an illness can spend down assets and go on Medicaid without worrying about their ex-spouse losing everything.

The world is complicated today, and divorce isn’t what it once was. Families look different, and the landscape of care does, too. For the sake of their children, many people take steps they wouldn’t have thought of before but do now out of love.