Doane v. Benenate

671 So. 2d 523

 

RULE:

Actions of one spouse toward another that normally constitute cruel treatment are excused when involuntarily induced by a preexisting physical or mental illness, but jurisprudence requires that the mental illness pre-date the misconduct.

FACTS:

Appellant former wife challenged a judgment from the 34th Judicial District Court, St. Bernard Parish (Louisiana), which denied her request for permanent alimony. The former wife and appellee former husband were divorced and the former wife requested permanent alimony contending that she was not at fault for the divorce. The trial court denied her request for permanent alimony and held that she was at fault in the divorce. The former wife appealed.

ISSUE:

Does continuing mental illness during the marriage preclude a finding of fault?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court disagreed with the trial court's judgment. The court held that the former wife was entitled to permanent alimony under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 112. The court reasoned that any alleged fault was due to the former wife's mental illness, thus, the court remanded for a determination as to the award of permanent alimony. Additionally, the court held that the former wife's behavior toward her spouse that normally constituted cruel treatment were excused when involuntarily induced by a preexisting mental illness. The court reversed the trial court's judgment denying the former wife's request for permanent alimony and remanded for further proceedings.

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