Family Law

Can mentally incompetent man obtain a divorce? Kentucky Supreme Court to decide

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The Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday considered whether any elderly man who has been declared incompetent can divorce the woman who is serving as his guardian.

The lawyer for Elmer Riehle is asking the state supreme court to overturn a 1943 decision finding that state law did not authorize a mentally incompetent person to divorce, the Associated Press reports. Kentucky is one of 10 states that bar mentally incompetent people from divorcing.

Elmer Riehle’s lawyer, Steven Megerle, argues that even a person who is deemed disabled can show what their true feelings and intentions are. “I don’t think that they should be locked up by their guardian,” he tells AP.

Riehle’s wife, Carolyn, was appointed as his guardian after he sent thousands of dollars to someone he believed to be a Nigerian royal prince, according to Carolyn Riehl’s lawyer, Michael McKinney. The lawyer says Carolyn still cares deeply for her husband, and he needs a guardian to stop him from wasting family money on overseas pyramid schemes.

Elmer Riehle filed for divorce in August 2013 after he twice sought, without success, to dissolve the disability determination and guardianship, according to an October appeals court ruling in the case. The appeals court affirmed an order dismissing Elmer Riehle’s divorce petition.

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