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Divorcing a Spouse with a Mental Health Disorder


More than 40 million Americans have a mental health condition. Many marriages are greatly impacted by mental health problems. Under the State of Florida law, couples are allowed to divorce on the grounds of mental incapacity of a spouse.

When one spouse decides to divorce the other on grounds of mental incapacity, the other spouse must have suffered from a mental illness and been incapacitated for no less than 3 years. The State of Florida considers incapacitation as suffering from either a physical or mental disability to the degree that the person is unable to make independent legal decisions.

For example, the incapacitated spouse is unable to sign a contract, execute of will, marry or divorce. The judge will appoint a guardian ad litem in order to act on behalf of the incapacitated spouse’s interests during the divorce proceedings.

In situations where the court grants a divorce based on the incapacity of a spouse, the judge may decide to give the incapacitated spouse alimony. Additionally, a spouse suffering from mental difficulties has an equal right to the marital estate as a normal spouse.

Child Custody 

The courts are obligated to consider the best interests of the child before making a child custody and visitation schedule. Judges typically contemplate various elements that may impact the wellbeing of a child, including whether or not both of the parents are mentally incapacitated.

It is important to keep in mind that just because a parent has a mental disorder, does not mean they will not be able to obtain custody. Parents that are capable of properly controlling their mental illness can be granted custody of his or her child.

However, in cases where the mental illness negatively impacts his or her ability to care for their child, the judge may decide on a more structured custody agreement to lessen the effect of the mental illness on the child.

In circumstances where the parent is too incapacitated to have a part in their child’s upbringing or if the parent has severely harmed the child, the court may decide to terminated the parent’s parental rights. Termination of parental rights is set aside for only the most extreme cases, because it is a permanent end to the legal parental rights. 

How does a Mental Health Disorder Affect Alimony? 

Courts review several different aspects when deciding if one spouse should provide alimony for the other spouse. The key intention of alimony is to assist an insufficient spouse pay their living expenses. Both a spouse’s current earnings and potential income are the most important determinants for alimony.

Thus, in cases where mental health difficulties preclude a spouse from working, the judge is likely to award alimony to that spouse, depending on how long the marriage lasted.

Please Don’t Hesitate to Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer 

The Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee genuinely care about all of our clients. We will passionately and aggressively represent your interests and help achieve your objectives. Divorces are often extremely complex and daunting tasks. It is important to hire an experienced attorney to provide you with the best possible guidance.

The experienced Orlando divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee are here to help you. We are both dedicated and determined to provide you with the best level of legal representation possible. Call now at 407-521-7171 or contact us online to discuss your divorce, child custody and alimony concerns.




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