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Can you divorce a mentally ill spouse?

York, PA |
Filed under: Divorce

Wife has been in and out of mental facilities....we were separated until she was admitted for long term care...I just want to move on...I can't take the roller coaster anymore....she has no family to help her out...not kids

Attorney Answers 2


I would need to know more about your situation to venture an opinion that gives you the answer you require. My answer would depend in part on the nature of her mental illness, whether she has been adjudged incompetent by a court or a medical professional, and whether (especially if incompetent) she has delegated power of attorney to a third party (or has a legal guardian) who may be entitled to notice, and who may use his or her delegated powers to assert your wife's rights in connection with any divorce process. Also relevant (among other issues) is whether there is a marital estate that ordinarily would have to be divided between you.

I would recommend being very careful and scrupulous about this, and taking the matter to an attorney. To get true closure, you want to work to avoid a situation in which even after you manage to get your divorce decree, a third party with delegated authority to handle your (ex-)wife's affairs surfaces and successfully challenges that decree.

Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
Pittsburgh, PA

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I am a Washington attorney and have no knowledge of the laws, rules or procedures in PA. If your situation was taking place here in Washington, my answer to you would be YES. If your wife can't adequately represent herself in proceedings because of mental incapacity, you could petition the Court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem on her behalf. I highly recommend you confer with an experienced divorce attorney in your state to confirm what your state's procedures are.

Jack Berner

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