Illinois guardians can now initiate divorce for mentally disabled

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Divorce on Friday, October 19, 2012.

Illinois residents with mental disabilities received a new freedom recently. Until earlier this month, people with mental disabilities who have a guardian could not file for divorce. The only way a person in this situation could get a divorce is if the spouse filed for the divorce.

The new law will likely benefit many people, who until now, may have been trapped in abusive marriages. For instance, say a couple gets married and then later on one spouse suffers a brain injury or develops a mental illness which requires them to have a guardian.

In this situation, the non-disabled spouse may be able to easily abuse family finances and make decisions the disabled spouse would not have agreed with. However, the disabled spouse wouldn’t have been able to get out of the marriage and protect his or her money because of the guardianship arranged after the injury occurred or mental illness developed.

One Illinois woman, for example, was in a car crash 15 years agtrao and incurred brain damage from the accident. She and her husband had arguments about finances, and she wanted to get a divorce. Her daughter, who is her guardian, tried to file for a divorce on her mother’s behalf. She then learned that she could not take action towards a divorce because her mother had a guardian.

This ruling opens the door to divorce for many who may be stuck in a marriage that they wanted out of years ago. While some may worry that the guardian could take advantage of the mentally disabled person by filing for divorce without the person’s consent, a judge makes the final ruling on whether the divorce is in the mentally disabled person’s best interest.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Court opens door to divorce for mentally disabled,” Associated Press, Oct. 4, 2012