Divorce on Grounds of Incurable Insanity

Divorce is never a painless process for anyone involved, be it the couple or their family. Most divorce lawyers often encounter several reasons for separation, from infidelity to irreconcilable differences. However, there are situations where a spouse's mental health conditions can lead to a divorce.  

In California, divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity is a viable reason for a divorce but is often misunderstood by many. In this blog post, we will explain what incurable insanity means, the legal process for filing on these grounds, and how to protect yourself during the proceeding. 

What is Incurable Insanity? 

In California, incurable insanity, also referred to as permanent legal incapacity, refers to a person’s inability to make decisions. This inability may be caused by a severe and chronic mental illness or disability that makes it impossible to continue the marriage. A person who is legally incapacitated may:  

  • lack alertness or attentiveness,  

  • struggle with information processing,  

  • struggle with thought processes, or  

  • have challenged with mood modulation.  

The Divorce Process  

In California, to file on incurable insanity grounds, the filing party must meet a certain burden of proof. To be specific, they need to provide the court with sufficient medical evidence, including the testimony of a mental health professional that proves that:  

  • their spouse is incurably insane and has been since you filed for your divorce, and  

  • the medical professionals in charge of their spouse’s care believe them to be incapable of making important decisions for the foreseeable future. 

Once the court is satisfied with the evidence, the divorce process begins. The divorce process is similar to other divorce proceedings and involves resolving any child custody, visitation, and property division. 

What Are the Other Grounds for Divorce in California?  

California is a no-fault state, meaning neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing on behalf of either party to obtain a divorce. This differs from fault-based states where one party must prove wrongdoing by the other party to obtain a divorce.  

Outside of filing on the grounds of permanent legal incapacity, Californians can file on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences means that there are no prospects for reconciliation and that the marriage has broken down beyond repair.  

Does California Allow for Legal Separation?  

If you have concerns about the future of your marriage or how your spouse will respond to treatment for a mental illness, legal separation may be a viable option to consider. In California, legal separation is similar to divorce in that it addresses child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. The main difference is that legal separation does not end the marriage, meaning you are still married and cannot legally remarry until the separation is converted to divorce.  

If you are in California, there are some factors to consider before pursuing legal separation. For example, if your spouse's mental illness is the cause of any financial issues, it may be necessary to pursue a divorce to protect your financial assets. Also, if the nature of the mental illness makes co-parenting difficult, divorce may be the better option to protect the children's wellbeing.  

Filing for separation rather than divorce can also provide you with more time to assess the situation before making final decisions. Ultimately, the decision to pursue legal separation or divorce is a personal one that should take the specific circumstances of your situation into account.  

Get Legal Help  

Divorce on grounds of incurable insanity is not a common reason for divorce. However, for those couples dealing with such a situation, the process can be very distressing and challenging. Getting legal counsel from an experienced lawyer is recommended to help navigate the divorce process and protect your legal rights. While it may seem daunting, with the right approach and support, it is possible to emerge from such a process positively.  

At The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc, our attorneys have decades of collective experience. If you or a loved one need help filing for divorce or legal separation, our firm is here to provide compassionate guidance and personalized counsel.  

Call (949) 577-7935 to discuss your case with one of our divorce attorneys.