Husband tried to have wife detained in psych ward after she sought divorce and spousal maintenance

August 8, 2013

Last week a husband attempted to use New York’s mental hygiene law to have his wife involuntarily placed in a psychiatric ward. While such a provision is available when someone demonstrates a willingness to do harm to themselves or another, such a situation did not exist in this case. Under cross examination, attorney Peter Cedeño, who represented the wife in this case was able to get the husband to admit that the only thing his wife had demonstrated was the desire to be divorced and receive spousal maintenance. In the case of Abreu vs. Abreu (case number: Index #421/2013, New York Supreme Court), the court dismissed the husband’s petition while permitting the wife to apply for reimbursement of her legal fees.

Under New York Mental Hygiene – Article 9 – §9.01 Definitions, “in need of involuntary care and treatment” means that a person with a mental illness for which care and treatment is essential to the person’s welfare and whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand the need for such treatment. Under § 9.01, “likelihood to result in serious harm” or “likely to result in serious harm” means that the person is a substantial risk of physical harm as manifested by threats or attempts of suicide or serious bodily harm, or other conduct which demonstrates that the person is dangerous to himself or herself, or a substantial risk of inflicting physical harm to others as manifested by homicidal or other violent behavior by which others have been placed in reasonable fear of serious physical harm.

Under New York Mental Hygiene-Article 9-§9.27 Involuntary Admission on Medical Certification, the director of a hospital may receive and retain any person alleged to be mentally ill and in need of involuntary care and treatment upon the certificates of two examining physicians. Such application for the admission of an allegedly mentally ill person can be executed by any person with whom the person alleged to be mentally ill resides, and this includes a mother or father, husband or wife, brother or sister, or the child of any such person, or the nearest relative. Fortunately, attorney Cedeño not only protected his client’s legal rights to a divorce, but more importantly he protected her human rights against wrongful institutionalization in a psychiatric ward, which is not unheard of.

New York City attorney Peter Cedeño practices divorce and family law with his partner H. Benjamin Perez at their law firm, Perez & Cedeño, P.C. Attorneys Perez & Cedeño believe that everyone has the right to happiness, and if their clients are no longer able to enjoy married life together, then they will help them end their marriage swiftly and efficiently, all the while protecting their clients’ legal rights throughout the divorce process.

Source: "Husband Tries to Use New York’s Mental Hygiene Law to Have Wife Placed in Psychiatric Ward," WatchList News (press release), August 8th, 2013.


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