It is a well-known fact that dementia changes the person it affects. In some cases, those changes are very dramatic. What some people might not realize is that when dementia affects you, it takes away certain abilities you have. One of those abilities is being able to be considered competent in the eyes of the law. The decision in the case of an elderly man with dementia shows how being declared incompetent can affect every aspect of your life, including your family life.
In this case, the 87-year-old man who is worth millions of dollars was declared incompetent in court. The court noted that after hearing the man testify, it was clear that he wasn't mentally competent to divorce his wife. His wife doesn't want a divorce, even though she says dementia has drastically changed their relationship.
The couple has been married 15 years, but his adult children claim that his wife is a danger to him. A probate court named two of his children as his guardians. That same court noted that the 87-year-old man could still have the right to sue and be sued. The day after that ruling, a divorce petition was filed.
In this case, the wife's attorney notes that the man's adult children engineered the divorce to keep the wife from getting the money she would be due if he dies. According to the couple's prenuptial agreement, the woman would get millions of dollars if the man dies. If the man divorces the woman, the prenup is invalid and she wouldn't see any of the money. The prenup would also be considered invalid if there was a separation that lasted 30 days or longer.
The couple was separated for longer than 30 days, but that was because of a court order. The woman's attorney plans to argue that point if it comes to it. The man's wife hopes to reunite with her husband soon, but only time will tell if that happens.
Having a prenuptial agreement that can be upheld in court is vital if you are planning on getting married. Without a prenuptial agreement, a high-asset divorce can turn into a nightmare. Those with considerable assets should ensure the prenuptial agreement they draft keeps their best interests at heart.
Source: Austin360.com, "Judge rules Florida man with dementia not competent to seek divorce," Jane Musgrave, July 06, 2015