How To Divorce a Mentally Incapacitated Spouse

divorce incapacitated spouse concept with gave and stethoscope

Divorce proceedings can be particularly challenging when one spouse is incapacitated by a mental illness.

A divorce filed on grounds of mental incapacity differs from a standard divorce, so it’s crucial to understand how it works.

Here, we will explore the element of mental incapacity in divorces, including eligibility requirements and its impact on other divorce-related issues.

What is a mental incapacity divorce?

A mental incapacity divorce is a legal process used to terminate a marriage when one spouse is mentally incapacitated.

Mental incapacity refers to the inability to make rational decisions or comprehend the consequences of one’s actions.

In this type of divorce, the filing spouse must provide evidence that the other spouse’s mental incapacity is significant enough to hinder their comprehension or participation in the divorce proceedings.

The Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 125, which concerns the dissolution of marriage, does not specifically mention mental incapacity. However, it does discuss disability benefits and their protection during a divorce.

How to qualify for mental incapacity

To qualify for a mental incapacity divorce, the filing spouse must provide comprehensive medical documentation from a qualified professional.

This documentation should affirm the other spouse’s mental incapacitation, including evidence of their inability to make rational decisions, comprehend the divorce process, manage their affairs, or live independently.

It should also provide a detailed assessment of their mental state, offering a thorough understanding of their condition and its impact on their ability to participate in the divorce proceedings.

The evidence must prove that the mental incapacity is severe enough to warrant a divorce.

What mental illnesses qualify?

Several conditions can be grounds for a mental incapacity divorce, but the incapacity must be permanent. Acute illnesses or temporary incapacitation may not suffice.

  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe depression or anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Personality disorders
  • Severe mental illnesses leading to diminished capacity
  • Mental conditions resulting from accidents causing severe cognitive impairment

The severity of the condition significantly influences the court’s decisions, as it impacts an individual’s ability to consent to the divorce and make decisions. In some cases, the court may need to appoint a legal guardian for the incapacitated spouse.

How is approval granted for a mental incapacity defense?

The approval of a mental incapacity divorce hinges on meticulously reviewed evidence, including medical documentation, which the court considers in determining the severity of the incapacity. Stating “My spouse is crazy or nuts” alone is not admissible as evidence in court.

If the evidence is substantial and meets the required standards, the divorce is granted.

Conversely, if the evidence falls short, the court may decline the divorce.

How does mental incapacity affect other divorce-related issues?

The presence of a mental disability can impact one’s ability to earn sufficient income, which is a significant factor when calculating spousal support, asset division, and custody arrangements.

Spousal Support: The court may appoint a conservator to manage the affairs and finances of the spouse deemed mentally incapacitated. The conservator will have authority over custody, property matters, and financial affairs, ensuring the incapacitated spouse’s best interests are protected during the divorce process. Additionally, either spouse can request alimony during divorce proceedings, regardless of gender, with mental disability being a qualifying factor.

Asset Division: The court examines various factors, such as each spouse’s income, earning capacity, age, and health status, to determine the distribution of community property and the calculation of support. Federal disability benefits awarded to a veteran for service-connected disability are protected from attachment, levy, seizure, assignment, and division.

Child Custody: The court’s primary focus is the best interest of the child. Factors such as the mental health of the parents, their ability to provide for the child’s needs, and stability are considered. Mental incapacity can impact the courts view of these issues significantly. The court may deem a mentally incapacitated parent unfit for custody, leading to sole custody awarded to the other parent. However, visitation rights might still be granted, with necessary safeguards in place to ensure the child’s welfare.

Divorce Attorneys in Nevada

Smith Legal Group can provide legal guidance navigating a divorce on grounds of mental incapacity. Call us at 702-410-5001 for a free consultation to learn about the financial implications of a mental incapacity divorce.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog post should be construed as legal advice. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in this blog post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.