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Filing for divorce due to mental illness

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2022 | Divorce |

Sometimes, marriage is not all you expected. The happily ever after never develops and you find yourself headed towards a divorce. In some cases, the reasons are obvious, such as infidelity or abuse. But when one of the spouses suffers from incurable mental illness, making the decision to divorce is more difficult. In North Carolina, there are specific conditions that must be met.

When can you file for divorce due to mental illness?

To file for divorce on the grounds that your spouse is incurably mentally ill, you must fulfill a set of conditions. These include:

  • Having lived separate and apart for at least 3 years, even if the mentally ill spouse has been released into the custody of their spouse from an institution that cares for the mentally ill
  • Providing evidence that the spouse has been declared mentally ill for at least 3 years before filing for divorce
  • Providing testimony from two medical doctors who have examined the ill spouse to support the evidence with one of the doctors being a staff member or supervisor from the institution treating the ill spouse and the other a medical doctor from the community where the mentally ill person lives but who has no connections to the institution
  • Residing in North Carolina for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce

Supporting evidence might also be provided if the mentally ill spouse has been deemed incurably mentally ill for longer than the 3 preceding years. To do this, medical doctors in the state, including a psychiatrist, must confirm the spouse is still incurably mentally ill.

Additional factors to keep in mind

If the ill spouse cannot support themselves, the court shall hold the other spouse responsible for their support. If the spouse asks for the case to be reviewed, and the court finds that the spouse’s actions led to the mentally ill spouse’s condition, then their case will not be considered.