Deciding to divorce your spouse can be one of the most difficult choices you’ve ever had to make. The choice can be even more difficult when your spouse is mentally sick and has been confined in a mental hospital for some time.
It can be difficult to navigate the divorce process, even in the most straightforward, non-contentious divorce cases. When you’re beginning the process of divorcing your spouse who may not have the mental capacity to digest what’s happening, the proceedings can be more complex and emotionally stressful. You need a highly skilled and compassionate divorce lawyer to represent your interests and help you reach the best outcome for you.
The San Antonio family law lawyers at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. are the representatives you need in your corner. Our partners are Board-certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specializations. We’re experienced in handling complex divorce cases, such as those in which one spouse is confined in a mental institution.
You need the most experienced divorce lawyer to help with your delicate divorce case. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your divorce and how our Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. lawyers can help you, call us right away at (210) 349-9933 or contact us online.
A Fault Divorce
You may be familiar with spouses filing for divorce for the reason of “irreconcilable differences.” This is legal grounds for divorce in Texas. However, it’s known as a no-fault divorce.
A fault divorce is the dissolution of a marriage in which a spouse claims that the other is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. In Texas, there are six grounds for a fault divorce, including:
- Prison or Jail Confinement
The final ground for a fault divorce in Texas is mental hospital confinement. If your spouse has been confined in a private or state mental hospital for at least three years and, by mental health professionals agree that your spouse is likely to remain mentally incapacitated, you could be granted a divorce on the grounds of confinement in a mental hospital.
Filing for Divorce on the Grounds of Mental Hospital Confinement
Before filing for divorce in Texas, you need to be two things:
- A resident of Texas for the prior six months; and
- A resident of the Texas county you file in for at least the prior 90 days
If your spouse is confined in a mental hospital in another state, you can still file for divorce in Texas as long as you file in the county in which you live and have been a resident of Texas for the past six months.
You have to file a divorce petition, stating that you are requesting your divorce be granted on the grounds of your spouse’s confinement to a mental hospital. You are required to “serve” your spouse with notice of your divorce filing. You don’t physically serve your spouse yourself. Instead, you engage a process server to serve your spouse. As long as you know where the mental hospital is that your spouse is confined in, you should be able to properly serve them your divorce petition and any other documentation that you filed with the petition.
Resolving Outstanding Issues in a Mental Hospital Confinement Divorce
It can be difficult to resolve the common issues in a divorce when your spouse is mentally incapacitated and confined in a mental institution. Many mental hospital patients can’t understand that their spouse is divorcing them and that they need legal representation. Most mental hospital patients can’t even afford legal representation. So, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent your spouse in the divorce.
Spousal and Child Support
Your spouse’s confinement in a mental institution doesn’t necessarily absolve them of their obligation to provide child support. Similarly, the court may award you spousal maintenance given the divorce grounds for which you filed. If your spouse receives some form of income, either through government benefits like Social Security disability or via other official means, their checks could be garnished to pay you spousal maintenance or child support.
The Texas family law courts operate with a primary objective of prioritizing the needs and well-being of children. If your spouse has been confined in a mental hospital, a judge will likely appoint you as the sole managing conservator, or the legal custodian, of the child as well as grant you sole physical custody. Sole conservatorship grants you the sole rights to make legal decisions regarding your child(ren), such as how your child is educated and their medical care.
Any property that you and your spouse had before entering into your marriage is considered separate property. After your divorce, that property will remain separately owned as it was before the marriage. Community or marital property will be divided equitably between the two of you. Any property that the two of you obtained during the marriage is considered community property. Typically, community property is divided fairly and as equitably as possible.
Call Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P.
You don’t have to go through the divorce process alone. It’s in your best interests to hire an experienced family lawyer. The San Antonio family lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. understand the complexities of divorce law in Texas. We can help you through the difficulty of completing the divorce process with a spouse who is confined and mentally incapacitated. We can advocate for your interests while you focus on preparing for a new chapter in your life. An already emotionally draining time should not be made worse by you having to work tirelessly to resolve your divorce on your own. Let us help.
Call the dedicated family lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. at (210) 349-9933 for help with your divorce. We’ll schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case, your desired outcome, and advise you on the next steps.