An unusual case has made headlines in Florida and elsewhere after a man was denied the right to divorce his wife. Most people assume that the ability to seek and obtain a divorce is a basic right, and cannot be lost under any set of circumstances. In reality, however, there are cases in which an individual has been prevented from divorcing, even when represented by a family law attorney.
An example is found in a man who had his divorce case recently dismissed due to the fact that he was deemed mentally incompetent. That determination had been made several years prior, after the man sent money to an individual who claimed to be a Nigerian prince. After that transaction was made, the man’s wife approached the court to ask that her husband be deemed incompetent to manage his own financial affairs. She prevailed, and was designated as his legal guardian.
In 2013, the man filed for divorce. However, when the matter went before a judge, a state law prohibited mentally disabled persons from filing legal actions. That means that unless the man can convince his legal guardian to file for a divorce on his behalf, he will be unable to end the marriage. As the man’s guardian is his wife, that outcome is unlikely.
In this case, the court is tasked with balancing the rights of the individual with the responsibility to protect people who are incapable of making their own decisions. That is not an easy thing to do, and not every case will be handled in the same manner, whether in Florida or another state. In this case, even though the man had a family law attorney working on his behalf, he was unable to prevail in court.
Source: tampabay.com, “Court says man can’t seek divorce without wife’s permission“, Adam Beam, Dec. 16, 2016