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Mental Capacity Issues in Florida Family Law Cases

Mental incapacity plays an important role in many different family law matters. Cases alleging mental incapacity of one of the spouses can become complicated and adversarial. Because you cannot actually get into someone’s head and know what they were thinking at a particular point in time, gathering and presenting evidence of mental incapacitation can be complicated. The following are some examples of when mental capacity may be at issue in a Florida family law case.

Marriage

In order for a marriage to be valid, both individuals must be of sound mind, must understand the nature and effects of getting married, and must be mentally capable of agreeing to the marriage. Simply because one person has a mental condition does not automatically render them incapacitated for marriage purposes, but if a court decides one spouse did not have the capacity to agree to a marriage, that marriage will be deemed invalid.

Prenuptial Agreements

If you sign a premarital agreement, you must have the mental capacity to understand the provisions of the agreement and the effects of the agreement should you get divorced in the future. If you did not have the ability to understand what you were signing at the time you signed, the agreement may be declared invalid.

Divorce

Mental incapacity is important in Florida divorce in more than one way. First, a Florida statute permits a spouse to get a divorce if they have been djudged to be mentally incapacitated for at least three years prior to the divorce filing. In such cases, the individual’s guardian or representative family member will be notified and will be able to appear in court on his or her behalf.

Additionally, Florida family courts will not grant a divorce that was filed by a mentally incapacitated person who does not understand the effect of a divorce. For example, a Palm Beach County judge recently ruled that an 87-year-old man with dementia could not be granted a divorce. His wife argued that his children are manipulating him for financial purposes to pursue divorce and that he would not actually want a divorce if he understood what was happening. The court agreed and dismissed the divorce case.

Child Custody

If one parent is mentally incapacitated, they will likely be unable to properly care for a child. Therefore, in such cases, the court may determine that it is in the best interests of the child to award full custody to the other parent or only provide for limited supervised visits with the incapacitated parent.

A Qualified Boca Raton Family Law Attorney Can Help

Having the requisite mental capacity is only one of many potential issues in marriage, divorce, and other family law matters. Each case will have unique legal questions and you always want to make sure you have an attorney handling your case who understands how to identify and address any potential issues. If you have any type of family law matter, you should not delay in discussing your situation with Boca divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton today. Call 954-229-1660 for a free consultation.