How to File for Divorce When Your Spouse Is Mentally Ill

By Beverly Bird

In many states, your spouse's insanity is a ground for divorce. But being certifiably insane is a far cry from being mentally unstable, and insanity is usually time-consuming and expensive to prove to the court. In most states, you can still use a no-fault option if your spouse is mentally ill, but you’ll probably have to take some extra steps toward divorce to accommodate his condition.

Step 1

Research your state’s available grounds for divorce to determine how you can file based on your spouse’s mental condition. In some states, an insanity ground may be prohibitive. Some jurisdictions require that your spouse remain institutionalized for up to five years before you can file. Others require a doctor’s certification that your spouse’s mental condition is not likely to improve. If your situation doesn’t qualify for your state’s guidelines, or if it would be an uphill battle for you to prove his mental incapacity to the court, confer with an attorney to find out if you can use another ground instead.

Step 2

Meet with your spouse’s family members. Find out if any of them would be willing to take on the responsibility of acting as his conservator or guardian. Depending on the severity of your spouse’s mental state and how capable he is of making rational decisions for himself, the court may require that he have someone to legally deal with the details of the divorce for him.

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

Step 3

File a petition or complaint for divorce as you normally would, if your spouse were of sound mind. Use the ground you’ve decided on after consulting with an attorney. Serve it on your spouse according to your state's laws, or on the director of the medical facility if he's institutionalized. If one of his family members has agreed to be his guardian, serve a copy on that individual as well.

Step 4

Petition the court to appoint a guardian ad litem for your spouse if no family member is willing to take on the responsibility. This will generally involve filing a motion under the docket number of your complaint for divorce. Serve a copy of your motion on your spouse so he can attend the hearing, if he’s not living in an institution. If he is institutionalized, serve a copy on the director of the facility.

Step 5

Attend the hearing for your motion. If you have any medical records or doctor’s reports for your spouse, make copies and take them with you. The judge will either decide that your spouse is competent enough to handle the divorce on his own, or he will appoint a guardian ad litem for him. A guardian ad litem is someone appointed by the court, often an attorney, to look out for your spouse’s best interests. In some states, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem even if one of your spouse’s family members is also acting as his guardian. After this point, your divorce should proceed along normal channels.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorcing a South Carolina Inmate


Related articles

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce for Adultery in New York?

In New York, just as in other states, the time required to get a divorce depends much more on whether you and your spouse can reach an agreement than on your grounds. This isn't to say that your grounds for divorce won't affect the timeline, however. If you file for divorce on grounds of adultery, it will probably necessitate a trial, so your divorce will take longer.

How to File for a Divorce in Maryland When One Party Is out of State

Filing for divorce when your spouse is out of state depends on two factors. You must have legal residence in the state where you're filing, and you must be able to serve your spouse with a copy of your divorce papers. Maryland is one of the more lenient states for service of process of divorce papers if your spouse lives elsewhere.

Types of Divorce in South Dakota

When spouses decide to end their marriage, one or both of them must file for divorce. To be eligible to file for divorce in South Dakota, the filing spouse, called the Plaintiff, must be a resident of the state. The divorce petition must be filed in the Plaintiff's county of residence, unless the Defendant, the other spouse, also resides in South Dakota, in which case the petition may be filed in the Defendant's county of residence.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Who Files for Divorce If the Husband Leaves?

No court rules determine which spouse can legally file for divorce, but you do have to have grounds – a legally ...

The Divorce Process in Florida If a Spouse Is Incarcerated

If you were already contemplating divorce, your spouse being sent to jail probably cements your decision. You might ...

Adultery & Divorce in Georgia

If your spouse engages in an extramarital affair and you want to sue her for divorce because of it, you might be more ...

How to Divorce an Alabama Inmate

Divorcing an incarcerated spouse in Alabama is not much different than divorcing any spouse. The process is virtually ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED