Mental Health & Divorce in North Carolina

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There are many reasons you may considering divorce. If you have a spouse with a mental illness, divorce may seem difficult to discuss. However, mental illness and divorce frequently come up as marriages end.

If you are considering pursuing a divorce, mental illness will not prevent you from doing so. North Carolina is a no-fault state, meaning either spouse can initiate proceedings to end their marriage. You can also obtain a divorce based on incurable insanity, though this is rarely used in NC.

North Carolina law also provides its own unique form of separation. This form, called divorce from bed and board, separates spouses while technically keeping them in a marital relationship. Each form of divorce depends on the behavior of your spouse. Mental illness can play a role in establishing a pattern of negative behavior in your spouse.

A skilled attorney with experience in this area of North Carolina divorce law will be helpful in analyzing your options when it comes to mental health issues and divorce. To schedule a consultation of your case, call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970, or reach out via our online form.

Can You Divorce Someone Who is Mentally Ill?

In the eyes of the law, marriage is a contract. For that contract to be valid, both parties must understand what they are doing when they enter into it. Mental illness can be grounds for invalidating that contract. If your spouse was not in control of themselves at the time you were married, or they did not reveal their condition to you before you wed, you may be able to seek an annulment.

When Are Mental Health Issues Grounds For Divorce?

North Carolina law allows you to obtain a no-fault divorce. To obtain a divorce without fault, you simply have to live apart for one year, without engaging in regular married life. Divorce proceedings in North Carolina can also be impacted by marital misconduct. This refers to wrongful acts by one party in the marriage. Examples of marital misconduct include abandonment and adultery.

Incurable Insanity and NC Divorce

In relation to mental health issues and divorce, North Carolina law also specifies incurable insanity as one of its grounds for ending a marriage. Whether or not insanity is incurable is not based on the person’s conduct in the marriage. Rather, it refers to a mental health issue or impairment that results or resulted in confinement. Confinement means medical care that is provided outside the home, and prevents the spouses from living together. If you are pursuing a divorce based on incurable insanity, you may not pursue one under marital misconduct. It’s important to note that in order to obtain this type of divorce in NC, you and your spouse must NOT have lived together within the past three years.

Divorcing a Bipolar Spouse

If you or your spouse is bipolar, divorce or custody battles may seem even more complicated than usual. As with other mental illnesses, however, bipolar disorder does not preclude you from custody or visitation rights. It can, however, become an issue in your divorce proceedings. The court will examine your circumstances specifically when making a decision regarding your case.

Obtaining a Divorce From Bed and Board

If one of the spouses in a marriage does any of the following, you may be eligible for a divorce from bed and board in North Carolina:

  • Abandons the family
  • Maliciously forces the other spouse to leave
  • Treats the other spouse “cruelly or barbarously,” endangering their life
  • Causes intolerable indignities in the other spouse’s life
  • Engages in burdensome use of alcohol or drugs
  • Commits adultery

Such a divorce is limited, and does not technically end the marital relationship. A divorce from bed and board is a good temporary fix while you decide if you want to remain together or obtain a final divorce. To discuss the possibility of a divorce from bed and board in addition to other mental health issues and divorce, contact Breeden Law Office today.

Can Mental Health Affect Custody?

When courts in North Carolina are determining custody, they try to act in the best interests of the child. This means that a parent’s mental health will potentially play a large role in the court’s custody decision. Additionally, mental health can play a role in how the court will assign visitation rights. A mental health issue does not necessarily mean that you will lose custody. The best interest standard means that the judge will have to examine your case individually. Your divorce lawyer will be equipped to tell you how mental illness will affect custody and visitation in your case.

Mental Health and the Termination of Parental Rights

In some cases, a parent’s mental health may have deteriorated enough to lose parental rights. This happens if it has been deemed that the parent is not capable of providing adequate care. Courts do not undertake this type of action lightly; it will likely only occur if every other avenue has been exhausted. For example, a judge will most likely give a parent a chance to get help for any mental issues before terminating parental rights. If the parent’s incapability of care will continue for the foreseeable future, the court can strip parental rights in certain circumstances.

Contact Us Today for Help with Mental Health Issues and Divorce

If you have questions about divorce based on mental illness, a lawyer knowledgeable in divorce law will be immensely helpful. For assistance with your North Carolina divorce, contact Breeden Law Office today. The law applies differently to each unique situation, and attorney Jonathan Breeden is knowledgeable and ready to help you decide what’s best for your family. To speak to a lawyer about your divorce, fill out our online form, or call us at (919) 661-4970.

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Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

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