How to Divorce a Mentally Unstable Spouse in Florida

By Cindy Chung

A mentally unstable spouse can significantly affect a marriage, and the couple may eventually decide to divorce. Filing for divorce from a mentally unstable and unpredictable person may create additional legal issues as well as safety concerns. If a volatile husband or wife threatens the spouse's safety, domestic violence laws may offer some protection. The spouse filing for divorce should understand the protections provided by Florida state laws regarding domestic violence, stalking, child custody and financial issues.

A mentally unstable spouse can significantly affect a marriage, and the couple may eventually decide to divorce. Filing for divorce from a mentally unstable and unpredictable person may create additional legal issues as well as safety concerns. If a volatile husband or wife threatens the spouse's safety, domestic violence laws may offer some protection. The spouse filing for divorce should understand the protections provided by Florida state laws regarding domestic violence, stalking, child custody and financial issues.

Domestic Violence Laws

If a husband or wife commits physical violence or threatens to harm a spouse, Florida domestic violence laws offer protection to the victim. Someone who fears a mentally unstable spouse may be able to request an Injunction for Protection through a Florida circuit court at any time before, during or after a divorce case. The court can issue a temporary injunction to cover the period of time before the scheduled hearing when the court will hear evidence and decide whether to grant a final injunction for a longer period of time. A domestic violence injunction may include a no-contact order, require child or spousal support payments, order the unstable spouse to participate in drug or alcohol testing, and allow the abused spouse to remain in the family home during a pending divorce case.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Criminal Stalking

If a mentally unstable husband or wife follows, watches, harasses or cyberstalks a spouse who plans to file for divorce or who has already filed for divorce, a Florida prosecutor may start a criminal action. While a domestic violence injunction is a civil matter in circuit court, the state prosecutes stalking and other offenses through the criminal courts. Criminal stalking of a spouse or child is a felony in Florida. During a divorce case, the court may consider criminal acts committed against a spouse when determining legal issues such as child custody.

General Divorce Procedures

The procedures to file for divorce from a mentally unstable spouse are generally the same as the procedures required for all divorces in Florida. The spouse requesting the divorce must file a petition and summons for a dissolution of marriage. The opposing party must receive a copy of the paperwork through service of process. Service may occur through a private process server or the sheriff's office in the county where the opposing party lives. A spouse with safety concerns regarding the other party's reaction to the divorce may want to have the sheriff's office complete the service requirements.

Financial Concerns

A husband or wife may worry about requesting financial support from a mentally unstable spouse during a pending divorce case or as the final terms of the divorce are made known. Florida child support, property division and alimony guidelines and laws determine each spouse's rights in the event of a divorce. A court order for support allows a judge to enforce support payments even if a mentally unstable or angry spouse refuses to pay. In addition, in cases involving domestic violence, the Injunction for Protection may require the other spouse to pay temporary child support or alimony while the spouses have a pending divorce case.

Custody Issues

Spouses who have children together likely need to resolve custody issues, known as parenting responsibilities and time-sharing in Florida, as part of their divorce. The court must review many factors in state law and cannot issue a custody order that appears to harm to the child. In particular, the court must consider incidents of domestic violence or child abuse; in these situations, the court may be less likely to award shared custody between the parents and may impose requirements to protect a child during visits with the volatile spouse. If an angry spouse refuses to comply with a custody order, the other parent may request the children's return through an ex parte order which does not permit a response from the spouse in violation of the order.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Get Divorced From Someone in Prison in Georgia

References

Resources

Related articles

Divorce in Florida Family Law

Florida is a pure no-fault divorce state, which means the only reason for divorce in Florida is that a marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Neither spouse has to prove the other spouse caused the divorce, and there is no ground for divorce that assigns blame, such as adultery or cruelty. In Florida, divorce is called dissolution of marriage, and the courts issue divorce decrees addressing property division, custody, child support and alimony.

What Is a Permanent Injuction in a Divorce?

Injunctions often serve an important role during and after the divorce process, particularly in cases of domestic violence. Generally, an injunction prohibits an individual from taking certain actions and allows the other spouse to ask the court to impose penalties, such as jail time, if the injunction is not followed. The laws and the terms used will vary by state and the likelihood of getting an injunction is highly dependent on the particular facts of your case, as well as state law.

Divorce Law in Florida & Restraining Orders

Even if your divorce is amicable, it can be a heart-wrenching process. If you have been a victim of domestic violence as well, the divorce process can be fraught with fear. Florida offers legal protection in the form of a restraining order, called an injunction for protection in the Sunshine State. If your spouse has been violent or abusive, or you have reasonable fear for your safety, you can ask the court for a temporary injunction for 15 days. The court will then schedule a hearing where you can ask for a final injunction that can last for up to a year.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Laws for Breaching Divorce Orders in Oregon

After an Oregon court issues divorce orders or approves a divorce settlement negotiated by the spouses, both parties ...

What Happens During a Divorce Hearing in Florida?

A divorce can feel like a lengthy or intimidating process, especially if spouses have a contested case that requires ...

Relocating With Children During a Divorce in Florida

When parents divorce in Florida, they generally need a court order for custody and visitation. Before either parent ...

Is a Florida Pre-Trial Order a Divorce?

In terms of emotional ties, a marriage may end quickly, but obtaining a legal divorce can take months or even years. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED