What You Need to Know About Mental Health Issues and Divorce in Georgia

Mental health may strain a marriage in Georgia and ultimately impact a spouse’s decision to file for a divorce. Here’s how mental health issues affect divorce in Georgia.

In Georgia, mental health may be grounds for a divorce in the case of incurable mental illness. The process of obtaining a divorce from a judge due to a terminal mental illness may be challenging as 1 in 5 people in the United States suffer from mental health issues. Georgia courts will not consider standard mental health issues as grounds for divorce.

Related: Legal Separation in Georgia: The Basics

Evaluating Mental Health in a Georgia Divorce

For a divorce to be based on incurable mental illness, the qualifying spouse must meet all of the following criteria. To deem a spouse as incurably mentally ill:

  • The court must deem the spouse mentally ill, or two physicians must conduct an examination and certify their mental illness
  • A mental health institution must admit the spouse, or the spouse receives continuous treatment for two years before the divorce, and
  • The head of the institution or treatment facility must testify the spouse cannot comprehend the marital relationship and will not recover in the near future.

Georgia courts view substance abuse issues differently than incurable mental illness. Constant drug use or intoxication may be grounds for divorce alone without a spouse meeting the above criteria.

Related: Georgia Spousal Support FAQs

Child Custody in a Mental Health Divorce

The court may consider mental health in any child custody cases whether the spouse has an incurable mental illness or not, perhaps because a parent’s mental health influences their ability to effectively care for their child. A judge may assess whether a parent manages their mental health condition properly or whether it could inflict harm upon the child’s best interests. When a parent’s mental health condition sacrifices the child’s best interest, a judge likely will rule in the other parent’s favor of child custody.

In Georgia courts, multiple protective measures help protect the child from a parent’s mental illness harming them. Custody orders in Georgia may include stipulations such as a parent regularly meeting with a mental health professional or the presence of a third party when a mentally ill parent visits their children. The court may consider alcohol and other substance abuse, which can hurt a parent’s right to visit their child. In extreme cases, a Georgia judge may terminate a parent’s right to see their child if the mental illness is incurable and will continue indefinitely.

FAQs on How Mental Health Issues Affect Divorce in Georgia

How does mental health affect spousal support in Georgia?

A judge may consider a parent’s mental health when determining alimony, especially if the mental illness prevents the other spouse from working. As a result, the other may pay more in spouse support. However, Georgia judges take Social Security and disability payments into account.

How does Georgia being a no-fault divorce state impact a mental illness divorce?

Although Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, meaning a spouse does not need to file for divorce for a specific reason, at-fault divorce cases are still available. Fault divorces may include incurable mental illness and continuous drug and alcohol use.

What if the spouse is incapacitated at the time of the initial marriage?

If a spouse is incapacitated on their wedding day, the Georgia court system will void the marriage. With a void marriage, the court deems the couple as never married.

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