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Midland lawyer's concern over mental health complications in divorce

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Spouses planning to divorce a partner suffering from mental health problems are being warned of potential complications as the time taken to end a marriage is increasing.

The alert comes from respected family lawyer Gurdip Kaur-Brring who is urging people to be more aware of the extra requirements to ensure their husband or wife has someone to speak on their behalf when matters go before a judge.

Ms Brring, a partner in the family division at Midlands law firm mfg Solicitors, said she was concerned that divorcing couples could be subjecting themselves to further heartbreak by not being fully aware of the time-consuming procedure.

She has spoken out as official figures show that processing a divorce through court is taking longer. The latest quarterly statistics show the average divorce takes 28 weeks, compared with 20 weeks previously.

At the same time, the Court of Protection has seen a 9% rise in applications under the Mental Capacity Act.

Ms Brring said: “There is nothing easy about divorce. There is nothing quick, simple or painless about separating from someone whom you’d planned to spend your life with.“

“However, when that person is suffering from mental health problems and has lost the capacity to make his or her own decisions, it is even harder.

“If a spouse lacks mental capacity they cannot agree to a divorce unless someone is appointed to make decisions on their behalf, known as a ‘litigation friend’.

“Someone with mental health issues will have other things about their divorce and financial settlement which must be taken into account. For example they may have specific and costly housing and care needs. Their life expectancy will have to be considered too because it could impact on the financial settlement. Choosing to divorce a spouse with dementia or other mental health problems can be a very difficult decision to take and advice should be taken as quickly as possible.”

mfg Solicitors boast one of the region’s largest family law teams with five partners, two associates and a seven-strong support team.

For more information on divorce and litigation friends contact Gurdip Kaur Brring on 0845 55 55 321 or email