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Illinois Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Divorce for Mentally Disabled
This month the Supreme Court of Illinois released the long held ban on the ability for mentally disabled people to file for divorce.
For many years, Illinois state law stated that mentally disabled couples and/or their guardians could not file for divorce. This included people in the following categories:
- Those with Alzheimer’s disease
- Those with severe brain damage
- Those with mental illness
Those who fought to lift the ban argued that many of these people were able to articulate their wishes, despite their mental condition.
The Supreme Court suspended this ban earlier this month. The Court will now make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“This is an important decision for people with mental disabilities,” says Illinois Family Law Attorney, Miriam Szatrowski. “Under the old law, people with mental disabilities who were married could be stuck in abusive or exploitative marriages with no recourse unless their spouse filed for divorce. This could result in a physically dangerous power imbalance, or allow an unscrupulous spouse to drain their partner financially. This decision will allow the family courts to treat people with mental disabilities as individuals by giving them and their guardians the ability to file for divorce, and then present their side at a hearing to see if the divorce is in their best interest.”