It is something that you may not think about as a senior citizen in a divorce, but it's a topic the courts will consider -- your mental competence. When it comes to gray divorce, we often only focus on asset division, tax liability, and even child support. For one couple, though, those issues are taking a back seat, as an 88-year-old man has been prohibited from divorcing his wife without her permission. The reason? He's been diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia.
In this unusual case, the man's wife was named as his legal guardian in 2008. Just five years later, he attempted to divorce his wife, but the courts have stood firm in preventing him from doing so, claiming that he is incompetent of making that decision without the woman's permission. The man is not legally permitted to sign documents or initiate a lawsuit in his own name -- and that means that he cannot split from his wife unless she consents. The problem for the husband, of course, is that the woman will not agree to the divorce.
Officials in the state say that the ruling is uncommon, but it is supported by a long-standing mandate from the 1940s. Legislators may examine the structure of the law in the future, but there appears to be no rush. This is a "peculiar conundrum" for the man and his wife, but it is not unreasonable to believe that the same gray divorce situation could happen in Florida.
Managing your divorce may seem overwhelming, and the tasks associated with a divorce become increasingly complex the longer you are married. A gray divorce comes along with specific challenges that can be alleviated with the help of a qualified attorney. These professionals can help you avoid pitfalls like the one faced by the couple in our story today.
Source: WKYT, "Court says mentally incompetent Ky. man cannot seek divorce," Dec. 15, 2016