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Could mental competency factor into a Florida divorce?

Divorce can cause many people to feel as though their mental stability is under attack. However, there are certain cases that come before the court in Florida and elsewhere in which one party's mental stability is called into question. One state is struggling to determine whether a man who has been deemed mentally incompetent is capable of seeking a divorce from his own wife.

In 2008, the 80-year-old man's wife approached the court to request that her husband be deemed mentally incompetent and that she be appointed as his guardian. The reason behind that request was the fact that the husband habitually fell for various financial scams. At one point, he was convinced that he would be receiving $23 million from a Nigerian prince. As a result, he made multiple payments to the scammers and received nothing in return.

In an attempt to keep her husband from squandering their savings, the wife sought legal assistance to handle all of the couple's financial affairs. Now, however, her husband has filed for divorce. Because of the prior ruling regarding mental competency, the question before the court is whether the husband is capable of making that type of legal decision.

According to attorneys, there are areas in his life in which the man is perfectly capable of making his own decisions. However, the wife's attorney asserts that without her care and oversight, the man is at risk of losing everything he has and becoming destitute. As the court considers the case, it will likely review evidence and hear testimony concerning the man's current mental state before determining if he is indeed mentally capable of asking for and receiving a divorce. Florida readers may take interest in the outcome of this case, as the fundamental question of mental competency is an area of law that affects all Americans.

Source: ABC News, "Kentucky Justices Struggle With Mentally Incompetent Divorce", Adam Beam, Aug. 19, 2016

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