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How does one go about divorcing a spouse with mental illness?

Knoxville, TN |

I have a friend who wants to divorce his mentally ill wife (bipolar/schizoaffective/whole line of dx illnesses). He is living away from her home at the time being, has been for 5.5 months. They have attended therapy, which is getting him nowhere. They believe she will have to be committed again soon, and even her therapist has told him that it would be a miracle if she survived all of this. He has been working with his wife trying to be friendly and help her out so he doesn't loose all his assets to her (he is living with a girlfriend because his wife wouldn't consent to a divorce) Any advice for him on how to go about this if she gets committed again?

He does have a lawyer that was suggesting he try to work things out with her.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Your friend really needs to work with his attorney on this. That said, if the wife really is incompetent, then what probably needs to happen is that the court appoint a guardian and conservator to represent her, have them served with divorce paperwork, and try to negotiate some kind of resolution. Your friend should be prepared to have a spousal maintenance order entered against him since it's highly unlikely that the wife will ever be able to care for herself or work.

    This answer is not to be considered a response to a specific legal issue in a specific jurisdiction - it is to be considered only a general response to a hypothetical scenario posed by the questioner. For specific legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.


  2. And can be difficulty at times for someone to divorce an individual that is deemed incompetent. Depending on the severity, the Court may not divorce someone because they may not even know their own name. I would suggest you contact an attorney in the county you wish to file the divorce.

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