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The Intersection of Mental Health Visits, Prenuptial Agreements, and Divorce

Divorce cases require the court to get involved in the personal details of a marriage to determine the best way to unwind it. Consequently, divorce cases are often highly emotional and can result in couples debating personal topics in court. These sorts of issues can become complicated if there are state laws that affect personal privacy layered on top of them.

For instance, Illinois law provides confidentiality for visits related to a persons mental health, but a persons mental health can also be an important issue in a divorce case. Consider a situation where a partner's mental state may affect their legal obligations. Prenuptial agreements, as with all contracts, must be signed by individuals who are legally capable of doing so and agreed to under their own will - free of duress. Lacking that capacity may result in the contract being unenforceable. Amidst divorce, a partner to one of these agreements may argue along these lines to have the agreement tossed out. But what evidence can be presented to prove incapacity or duress, particularly when confidentiality and privacy rights are involved?

An Example

This unique issue recently arose in a much publicized divorce case relating to “the richest man in Illinois.” The case centers around a hedge fund manager and his wife, who was also a successful financial professional. Before getting married, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement that laid out, among other things, certain stipulations about how the property was to be divided in the event that the couple filed for divorce.

The wife in the case is now fighting to have that prenuptial agreement invalidated. While there are a variety of ways that prenuptial agreements can be invalidated under Illinois law, one of them is duress. A duress argument can be made on the basis that one of the spouses signed the contract based on the improper influences of another person. The wife argues that prior to signing the agreement she met with the husbands psychologist who also had a professional relationship with the husband, and that she signed the prenuptial agreement on the improper advice of the psychologist. Conversely, the husband, who was also present at the meeting, argues that her disclosure of the meeting violated his right to keep communications with his psychologist confidential under Illinois law.

The Illinois Law In Question

Courts dealing with and similar issues are forced to make tough decisions that way competing rights and interests. The issue of disclosure centers around the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act. This Act places restrictions on when information about mental health visits may be disclosed.

Cases may eventually hinge on nuanced details. For example, if both parties were jointly present at a meeting with a mental health professional, then either one may potentially claim privacy rights related to the meeting. Alternatively some argue that the court should interpret the Act as applying only to people seeking mental health treatment rather than simply counseling on marital issues.

Divorce law can implicate a wide variety of other areas of law. If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer who can help guide you through these complex interactions.

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