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Mentally disabled now eligible to file for divorce in Illinois

For years, courts would not let those who were mentally disabled file for divorce. Mentally disabled in this respect refers to a wide spectrum of people, from people who have severe brain damage to those suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer's. Guardians of the mentally impaired were also banned from filing for divorce on behalf of these people. Thanks to a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling, however, that has now changed.

The court has decided that a flat ban on filing for divorce is no longer ideal for the mentally impaired, and it has ruled that each divorce case should be decided on an individual basis. Courts usually ask married couples considering divorce to try to work out their differences through divorce mediation whether mentally impaired or not. If the mediation does not have a positive outcome and both parties cannot find a way to make their marriage work, divorce proceedings may begin. Divorce courts will then consider the best interests of the disabled person regarding dissolution of marriage petitions.


Making the decision to file for divorce is often a painful and emotional one, and individuals may feel confused or overwhelmed by the process. When it comes to filing for divorce, don't walk into the courtroom alone. Everyone deserves a fair hearing regardless of mental impairment, which is why it is important to understand the rights of all individuals involved. A qualified attorney will be able to discuss all of the options available to the individual dealing with divorce, from mediation to the filing process and all subsequent proceedings.

Source: CBS St. Louis, "Illinois Supreme Court Opens Door to Divorce for Mentally Disabled," Associated Press, Oct. 4, 2012

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