Mental Illness and Divorce
If you or your spouse suffers from mental illness, their diagnosis can affect your divorce in many different ways. When consulting with your Orlando Divorce Attorney, discuss with them the details of your or your spouse’s mental illness and become informed on the effects it may have in your divorce proceedings.
First, mental illness may affect the initial grounds for a divorce. In the State of Florida, there are only two grounds for divorce: the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, or the mental incapacitation of a spouse. If you are seeking a divorce based upon your spouse’s mental incapacitation, you will be required to produce evidence of the incapacitation for at least 3 years preceding your initial filing. Further, the mental incapacitation must be so severe, that the spouse is incapable of contracting or making informed and educated decisions regarding their affairs.
Even if you do not wish to seek a divorce based upon a spouse’s mental illness, the diagnosis may still become a factor in alimony, or child custody arguments. For instance, a child custody arrangement is based upon the best interest of the child. This standard involves factors considering the parent’s physical and mental health, as well as providing a safe and stable environment for the child. Therefore, if evidence is presented that a mental health issue exists and is not being treated effectively, or is hindering a parent’s ability to properly care for their child, the court will take this into consideration to reduce the impact of the mental illness on the child. In some cases, the court may limit the visitation between the child and parent to be supervised, to only occur during the day time, or if so severe, may prohibit visitation altogether. It is important, if you suffer from mental illness and have minor children that you show the court the treatment you are receiving, and the provide evidence of your diagnosis and ability to parent your child outside of your diagnosis. In contrast, if you are a parent who is concerned about your child’s contact with a mentally ill parent, bring this to your Orlando Divorce Attorney’s attention immediately. Your child’s protection is of the utmost importance. Finally, in regards to child custody and a mentally ill parent, the parent who is mentally incapacitated may still be required to pay child support if the court finds they have the ability to do so.
Mental incapacity may also affect an award of spousal support in a divorce proceeding. When considering alimony there must be a present need for monetary support and a respective ability to pay such support. Therefore, if a spouse is mentally incapacitated, they may have a valid claim for alimony, as many individuals with a severe mental incapacity are unable to obtain viable employment to individually support themselves.
Whether you are seeking a divorce on the grounds of a spouse’s mental incapacity, or are divorcing a spouse who has a mental illness, it is necessary to understand how these diagnoses can affect different aspects of your divorce. Contact an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney today to elaborate on your unique situation and receive advice on how to proceed in your divorce action.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.