Just like every marriage is unique, every divorce is unique. The incurable insanity divorce, or the divorce due to permanent legal incapacity, is one of the more difficult types of divorce. The burden of proof is on you to show that your case truly qualifies for this type of divorce.

So, what do you do if you truly believe your spouse lacks the mental capacity to follow through with a traditional divorce? Here are some things you should know before filing for an incurable insanity divorce in California.

General Reasons for Divorce in California

California is what is called a “no-fault divorce” state, meaning your legal duties do not include providing that the divorce is your spouse’s fault. As such, there are only two legal grounds for divorce : (i) Irreconcilable differences and (ii) Permanent legal incapacity.

If you file for a divorce due to irreconcilable differences, Californian courts don’t ask you to provide evidence to such claims.

In contrast, divorce due to permanent legal incapacity, or “incurable insanity,” is possible only under very specific circumstances. The court must assess that, considering all the circumstances of the case, your spouse is not capable of making decisions. This process must include an appropriate medical expertise assessment.

California Divorce Residence Criteria

Before you decide to submit your divorce agreement to a Californian court, your case needs to meet the residence requirements. This is true no matter what kind of divorce you’re filing for.

  • At least one of the spouses must have lived in the county where you file your divorce paperwork for no less than 3 months prior to the date of filing for a divorce.
  • At least one of the spouses must have lived in California for no less than 6 months prior to the date of filing for divorce.

What Is Permanent Legal Incapacity or Incurable Insanity?

The truth of the matter is that the CFC does not give a clear definition of what permanent legal incapacity/insanity is. As it is understood from the opinion on the case Dribin V Superior court, “insanity” is a broad, comprehensive, and generic term, of ambiguous import, for all unsound and deranged conditions of the mind, that could be understood differently from state to state. Therefore, the court might also require proof that your spouse is confined in California to make sure that the understanding of the permanent “insanity” is in line with the Californian legislation.

Obtaining an Insanity Divorce or Permanent Legal Incapacity Divorce in California

The Californian Family Code (CFC) provides strict requirements for the divorce petitioner who wants to pursue divorce on the grounds of permanent legal incapacity. This type of divorce request requires a proof, including professional medical or psychiatric testimony, that the spouse lacks the legal capacity to make decisions.

Note that the CFC does not provide “insanity” as a ground for divorce, but rather uses the term “legal incapacity.” This mental state has to be permanent and present at the time of filing the initial divorce form.

You can probably tell that permanent incapacity or insanity divorce only occurs in extreme situations after an irretrievable breakdown of mental faculties. To get a clearer picture of what you have to do in insanity divorce proceedings, let’s break this definition down into segments.

1: Medical Proof

“only upon proof, including competent medical or psychiatric testimony “: This means that it’s not enough to simply state that your spouse is insane or “crazy” to get a divorce. The court won’t simply accept your view of your current spouse’s condition. The incapacitated condition must be confirmed by a medical/psychiatric professional who can provide a form of expert testimony.

2. Spouse’s Current State

“that the spouse was at the time the petition was filed “: This means that your spouse has to be mentally incapacitated when you file for divorce. It won’t be enough to say that your spouse is an insane person when you file your paperwork. For example, if your spouse has been confined in a mental asylum, you meet these criteria.

3. Spouse’s Future State

“and remains”: This means that the condition is not temporary or a single incident. Your spouse hasn’t simply suffered a complete breakdown from which they can bounce back. Their situation must be permanent, perhaps due to an illness or injury.

“permanently lacking the legal capacity to make decisions”: This means that the medical/psychiatric expert must confirm and provide actual proof that your spouse cannot make independent decisions now and perhaps for the rest of life.

Insanity Divorce in California: FAQ

Got questions? Here are some of the most common queries about this type of divorce filing.

How Does Permanent Legal Incapacity Affect Your Obligations in a Divorce?

The CFC clearly states that the permanent legal incapacity/insanity divorce does not relieve a sane spouse from any obligation imposed by law as a result of the marriage. This means that you still have to make arrangements for support, alimony, child custody, parental rights, and the like in family court just like you would for a standard divorce.

Is There an Alternative to a Divorce Judgement due to Legal Mental Incapacity?

Insanity divorce is difficult to prove, and the outcome of such a process is difficult to predict. What if the court decides your spouse’s mental illness is temporary and reparable rather than permanent in your divorce judgment?

If you are not fully confident of your success, maybe you should consider the Californian legal separation process.  Legal separation is not definite, but it does temporarily allow you to legally separate yourself from your spouse. It also gives you a chance to change your mind if the circumstances of the mental illness do indeed change. If it becomes clear in the future that the mental condition of your spouse is not going to change, you can file a petition for divorce.

What Divorce Forms and Filing Fees Do I Need to Know About for an Insanity Divorce in California? 

When filing for a divorce, especially if you’re representing yourself without the assistance of a professional attorney, there’s a lot of paperwork to complete. Here is some more detailed information on relevant divorce papers.

The dissolution of marriage via divorce in California requires a filing fee. The average price is $435, but the final price may vary since there are other chargeable services that can apply during the divorce process. If you require a medical expert for testimony, you also need to pay them as part of your divorce process.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Insanity divorce in California

If you believe you have a clinically insane spouse and you are not 100% sure of your success, you should probably seek help from an experienced professional. This is because the CFL doesn’t clearly define what “permanent insanity” is, but the court sure will. Therefore, you may need assistance from a lawyer to help you prove your statements.

However, if you are sure of your success (you have strong medical documentation) or if you decide on an alternative (legal separation), you don’t necessarily need to pay divorce attorneys. The California divorce process is designed in a way that you can represent yourself! You can complete the process by carefully drafting the divorce papers. You just need a proper online tool to help you with the documents so you don’t miss out on any procedural details.

How to File for Divorce in California with A People’s Choice

Saying that you have a clinically insane spouse is a bold statement. You are claiming that your spouse is unable to understand basic life situations and make rational decisions.

Unlike standard no-fault divorce proceedings in California, the insanity divorce can make for a difficult time in family court. You, as the plaintiff, must provide proof for the statements and claims of the divorce petition. In these proceedings, you have to show that your spouse qualifies for incurable insanity. This means that you must be quite certain that you have a clinically insane spouse. The burden of proof is on you, but it is also a tough decision for a judge to make.

If you decide to represent yourself, you need a reliable online service to help you with the preparation of the divorce papers. Make your life easier and try A People’s Choice online divorce service. We are here to help make divorce, including an insanity divorce, as painless, quick, and affordable as possible. A People’s Choice online divorce service ranging from $250 to $624 can completely take care of your paperwork for your divorce proceeding. Check out our blog for more divorce information if you have divorce law questions, or contact us today to get started on your DIY divorce!