Getting a Divorce in Pennsylvania With a Mentally Ill Spouse

By Anna Assad

A spouse's mental health may impact various areas of a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania, including the divorce grounds, custody awards and support calculations. A mentally ill spouse still has rights during the divorce; the other spouse must consider his mental state when going through the court process for divorce.

A spouse's mental health may impact various areas of a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania, including the divorce grounds, custody awards and support calculations. A mentally ill spouse still has rights during the divorce; the other spouse must consider his mental state when going through the court process for divorce.

Grounds

Pennsylvania allows for fault and no fault divorces. A fault divorce is when one spouse caused the breakdown of the marriage, such as committing adultery. A no-fault divorce means neither spouse created the need for divorce. Divorcing a mentally ill person in Pennsylvania may fall under either type, depending on whether the spouse is institutionalized due to the disorder. If the mentally ill spouse has been in an institution for at least the last 18 months and is expected to remain there for another 18 months or more, the other spouse may file for a no-fault divorce on these grounds. If the mentally ill spouse isn't institutionalized, the other spouse may file for a fault divorce on the grounds the ill spouse has made her life unbearable, or any other grounds that apply such as irreconcilable differences.

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Custody

When deciding custody, Pennsylvania law takes various factors into account such as the physical health of both parents and the past parenting duties of each parent. However, the child's safety is a primary concern -- and the court does take the mental health of each parent into account. While a mentally ill parent may retain a form of visitation, the other parent may receive both physical and legal custody of any children of the marriage because of the mentally ill parent's condition.

Child Support and Alimony

Child support and alimony awards are affected by the mental health of the paying spouse in Pennsylvania. A spouse with a mental illness may not be able to work or have limited income due to his mental state. The court may deviate from traditional support guidelines because of the spouse's mental health. Pennsylvania has a fixed self-support reserve amount for alimony and child support awards; the reserve is the amount of money the payer must have left over each month to cover his own needs after paying support. At the time of publication, the paying spouse must have at least $867 in income each month for his own needs.

Guardianship

If the mentally ill spouse's condition has rendered him incompetent, he may need a legal guardian to represent him in the divorce proceedings. A court-appointed legal guardian of the spouse has the authority to act for the mentally ill spouse. Depending on the powers the guardian has, he may have to sign all documents and make all decisions for the mentally ill spouse during the divorce proceedings.

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Texas Divorce Laws & Mental Illness

References

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Will He Still Have to Pay Alimony With a No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania?

When spouses file for divorce in Pennsylvania, a financially weaker spouse may be entitled to alimony. Pennsylvania courts award alimony based on financial need. It is not a punishment for any misconduct that may have caused the divorce. Even if spouses are filing for a no fault divorce, one of them may still owe alimony to the other.

Alimony Laws in Tennessee

Alimony is a monetary award paid to the financially weaker spouse after a divorce. Tennessee courts can award one of several types of alimony available, based on a number of factors that generally include duration of marriage, age and mental health of the receiving spouse, and education and potential need for training for the receiving spouse. The type of alimony awarded is based on the spouses' circumstances, and the court may award more than one type of alimony, where appropriate. The law also dictates when alimony can be modified, as well as when the obligation to pay terminates.

Divorcing a Convicted Felon

The felony conviction of a spouse can be disrupting and damaging to a marriage, especially if the convicted person also receives an extended prison sentence. The resulting separation, along financial and emotional strain, can lead to divorce even among previously happy couples. Many states have special divorce rules pertaining to incarcerated felons. A prior felony conviction when a spouse is not incarcerated may also affect child custody proceedings.

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