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Mom, guardian change divorce law for spouses with mental disabilities p2

We are continuing our discussion of an Illinois Supreme Court decision that gives spouses with mental disabilities more independence. The new rules could very well serve as a template for other states.

The case involves a marriage changed by a car accident. The wife suffered brain damage and, from that time forward, required full-time care. The husband was her legal guardian, but his own health issues eventually got in the way of his taking care of those responsibilities. Their daughter took over as guardian, but not before forging a settlement agreement between her mother and her father.

A few years passed, and the husband filed for divorce. He cited noncohabitation and irreconcilable differences, and his daughter, as guardian for her mother, filed a verified counterpetition.

Discovery, however, turned up some interesting details. In fact, when asked for certain information, the husband withdrew his divorce petition. The husband said the divorce was originally the daughter's idea, and he said they had decided that "each party would retain the assets and liabilities in their own name," according to court records. The proposal seemed in line with the settlement agreement the couple had executed when the daughter took over as guardian, although the husband added a request for temporary spousal maintenance and interim costs.

The wife's response was that the documents produced in discovery suggested that the husband was hiding assets and income. And, the documents revealed that the husband and his romantic partner were living together in a home that may very well have been purchased with marital assets. That would mean that the wife was entitled to a portion of the home's value.

The plot thickened. The husband claimed his wife did not want a divorce. Which wife was that, though? According to the mortgage and warranty deed for the home the husband and his partner lived in, they owned the property as husband and wife.

Underlying every motion, though, was the reality that the wife was so incapacitated by her injuries that she was not able to make these decisions for herself. Nevertheless, the court continued to receive motions on her behalf.

We'll continue this in our next post.

Sources:

Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), "Court opens door to divorce for mentally disabled," Associated Press, Oct. 4, 2012

Karbin v. Karbin ex rel. Hibler, 2012 IL 112815, 2012 WL 4712030 (Illinois, 2012), Oct. 4, 2012

Our firm works with couples who want to dissolve their marriage in unusual circumstances like the couple discussed above. You can learn more about our practice by visiting our Libertyville, Illinois, divorce and family law page.

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