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Seeking Divorce on Grounds of Mental Health Issues

Top family lawyers Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmOne of the best things about the State of California is that it is a “no-fault” divorce state. It means that to get a divorce you do not have to provide any explanation regarding your behavior towards your relationship. Now, what happens if one of you seeks a divorce based on grounds of mental illness? In California, it is referred to as “incurably insane,” and it is ground on which you can seek a divorce. However, the judge decides whether the person in question has reached a level of insanity which is incurable or not.

Grounds on which divorce can happen

The legal incapacity of your spouse is determined based on his/her behavior. You can ask for a divorce if your spouse is unable to show one or more of the following traits:

  1. Making logical decisions with respect to marriage, health or legal grounds.
  2. Attention towards speaker
  3. Processing information
  4. Processing logical thoughts
  5. Modulating moods

You must provide proof of your spouse showing signs of mental illness. The judge will listen to testimony from different mental health experts and will then conclude.

Effect on Custody

Usually, the State Department of Social Services will handle the child when the parent is proved to be suffering from mental illness. They will provide reunification services to the family but only if the parent’s mental health is not extreme enough to be confined to a mental institution.

Additionally, the Director of State Hospitals or Director of Developmental Services can certify a parent to be mentally unfit and cease the parental rights. However, two or more mental health professionals must confirm and testify that the mental state of the parent will continue indefinitely before such action can be taken.

Effect on spousal support

“Spousal support” in California is based on the earning ability of each spouse to maintain a certain standard of living. If a parent gets divorced on grounds of mental illness, there are disability benefits provided by the state of California. However, in most cases, the newly-divorced parent struggles to maintain the same standard of living he/she had before the divorce.

If divorce is granted based on your ex-spouse’s mental illness, you are still liable to bear some of the expenses. You must understand that for a person suffering from mental health issues, it is very difficult to make a decent living on just disability benefits.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.

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