Separating from Someone with a Mental Illness

Separating can feel overwhelming for any couple, but especially if your spouse has a mental illness. You might be wondering if you are even allowed to do so, but the reality is, you can. In North Carolina, we refer to separation as “divorce from bed or board,” which essentially separates the couple while keeping the legality of the marriage intact. But, while North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, there are certain standards the spouse seeking separation must show for the court to award the separation.

Reasons for Divorce from Bed and Board

North Carolina law endeavors to protect its citizens from unnecessary or frivolous marriage separations by only allowing the injured spouse to request a divorce from bed and board. To do so, that spouse must show that the other spouse has committed a marital fault. In North Carolina, marital fault happens when:

  • The spouse abandons their family
  • The spouse maliciously kicks the injured spouse out of the marital home
  • The spouse endangers the life of the injured spouse
  • The spouse does things to the injured spouse that make their life overly burdensome or intolerable
  • The spouse uses drugs or alcohol so much that it makes the other spouse's life overly burdensome or intolerable
  • The spouse commits adultery

Generally, if you can show these incidences, the court will award you a divorce from bed and board. If, after a year, you decide that a full divorce is something you wish to pursue, you will not have to prove any standards. In North Carolina, to obtain a divorce, either party can file, citing irreconcilable differences as the cause. You must be separated for a full year before you can file.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

At Caulder & Valentine, we have years of experience in Family Court in North Carolina. We work tirelessly to ensure our clients see the best possible outcomes in court. Navigating a separation from a mentally ill spouse can be confusing, time-consuming, and draining. Having an experienced attorney working on your behalf from the moment you decide to pursue separation will guarantee you an easier, less stressful time. Our job is to alleviate that stress; let us help. Contact us today online or by phone to set up a consultation. Remember, you are not alone in this.