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wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 12:52 AM
Hi! I have a character who will be put on an involuntary psychiatric hold in California (5150), on her way to a 14 Day hold. Could she get legally married during this time?

On the wikipedia page, it says citizens under 5150 do not lose rights except the right to leave the facility, but I wonder if there might be some problem with signing legal papers while on a psychiatric hold.

I really want her to have to get married in the psych ward, though, so anything we can cook up for that to happen would be fantastic.

As a subset, if a person is on a psychiatric hold, can they have more than 1 visitor at a time? We will need a groom, an officiant, and a witness. How can I make that happen?

Thank you!!

AyJay
08-31-2010, 01:10 AM
I think the answer is: it's legal but highly unlikely.

For someone to be in the hospital involuntarily, it suggests quite a low level of mental functioning, psychosis or suicidology, so it's quite hard to imagine that he or she would be capable of making the decision to get married. Plus doctors, nurses, family, friends would discourage it such that even if it's in your character's legal rights, they could interfere with it happening rather easily under the circumstances.

You might have an interesting story if you're writing a conspiracy-style institutionalization, but otherwise, my BS meter would be going off with the question: why couldn't the patient just wait 14 days to get out of the hospital.

Re. visitors, to my knowledge, psychiatric patients can have more than one at a time. It's been a long time since I worked in a hospital, but that's my recollection.

Good luck!

suki
08-31-2010, 01:14 AM
I'll agree with AyJay that even if legal, I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around a senario that makes logical sense.

For it to work, I think the facility would have to consent to allow the marriage, as I think the person's visitors would be restricted, and not just in number, but in who it is. And if they are in bad enough shape to warrant detention, the facility would be screening every visitor for their possible effect on the patient, and, I think, unlikely to consent to the patient making such a life-changing decision while under hold.

So...maybe if you explain more of the senario there's a way to make it work, but I'm in the skeptical column right now.

~suki

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 01:14 AM
I think the answer is: it's legal but highly unlikely.

For someone to be in the hospital involuntarily, it suggests quite a low level of mental functioning, psychosis or suicidology, so it's quite hard to imagine that he or she would be capable of making the decision to get married. Plus doctors, nurses, family, friends would discourage it such that even if it's in your character's legal rights, they could interfere with it happening rather easily under the circumstances.

You might have an interesting story if you're writing a conspiracy-style institutionalization, but otherwise, my BS meter would be going off with the question: why couldn't the patient just wait 14 days to get out of the hospital.

Re. visitors, to my knowledge, psychiatric patients can have more than one at a time. It's been a long time since I worked in a hospital, but that's my recollection.

Good luck!

Thank you! You are right that it will be hard to suspend disbelief, and I'm not sure if I can pull it off, but the idea is annoying me like a loose tooth.

veinglory
08-31-2010, 01:17 AM
It would most likely be legal unless blocked, but would it be possible? That would depend on exactly what is needed for a legal marraige in that juristiction.

Said The Sun
08-31-2010, 01:24 AM
Call me gullible or easily amused, but I find that idea kind of neat. ish.

Kitty Pryde
08-31-2010, 01:30 AM
The point of a 5150 is that you are a danger to yourself or others. Ever met anybody in this condition? I have. Just post- or pre-suicide attempt, or major suicidal ideation and planning, or physically violent towards everybody, or so impaired by a mental disorder that you cannot care for yourself. These people are in no condition to get married whatsoever. They aren't even in good enough condition to sit at home on their couch watching tv. Especially considering that your character is in such distress that she will have a 14 day hold.

You can't really get an involuntary hold without deserving one, either. There must be immediate risk to self and others. I've had friends who have pleaded with police/doctors/social workers to get very ill family members committed before they harm themselves, and those people haven't been considered sick enough for an involuntary hold. You have to be in a terrible state.

veinglory
08-31-2010, 01:32 AM
Yea, you have to be in a terrible state and probably should not be getting married, but that was not the question. The question was could you.

Kitty Pryde
08-31-2010, 01:34 AM
Right, my point being that you CAN'T get married when you are physically combative/recovering from your OD and stomach pumping/heavily tranquilized/mentally unable to seek more basic life essentials like food and shelter/whatever.

JulieHowe
08-31-2010, 01:41 AM
Because of past abuses (including what happened to Christine Collins, the real-life mother in the movie Changeling), the standards are extremely rigorous in California before someone can be held against their will beyond the standard 72 hour involuntary psych hold.

For your character to be locked up in California on a 14-day involuntary psychiatric hold, she's been legally designated as a danger to herself or someone else, even temporarily, and it's highly improbable she would be allowed to get married without the express permission of the same dependency court judge who signed the papers to extend her involuntary psychiatric hold from 72 hours to 14 days. The judge probably isn't going to sign off on anything beyond what is absolutely legally necessary.

http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/code/getcode.html?file=./wic/05001-06000/5150-5157

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 01:58 AM
Thanks for the responses! I appreciate hearing about what kind of reasonable obstacles there are for making this scenario work.

veinglory
08-31-2010, 02:00 AM
Frankly, not all people in involuntary are that badly off. Maybe it depends on how rigorous your local law enforcement and mental health people are. One aquaintance I know was locked up for a sarcastic drunken comment, she was totally lucid as soon as she sobered up, but it took a while to get her out because her assigned psychatrist was impossible to contact for two days. So she would totally have had the ability to want to follow through with a marraige. If her boyfriend and a bureacrat visited, I bet she could have done it. Hopw would they stop her from signing a piece of paper in the waiting room? The powers that be would probably not even know it was happening.

Kitty Pryde
08-31-2010, 02:02 AM
Right, but she's saying this isn't just a rowdy drunk, this is someone in a 72 hour involuntary hold on her way to a 14 day involuntary hold. As in, danger to self/others and expected to continue to be so for days at the least.

Wiskel
08-31-2010, 02:09 AM
It should be legal in the sense that no legislation would restrict it, but I can't see it happening.

First off you have a capacity problem. Most powers of dentention have to argue that a person's capacity to make decisions is reduced or altered by a mental illness. It would be hard to argue that capacity was reduced but the decision to marry was made with proper consideration.

You've said your character is female. Unless you write the scene very well, you have a fine balance to walk between the groom coming off as a good guy, or someone who would exploit the vulnerability of his bride to be...unless that's what you're aiming for.

The ward are going to advise everyone to wait. If the groom is a good guy it's going to be hard to figure out why he'd ignore this advice and why he'd want his bride's memories of her wedding day to include being detained on a psychiatric ward, instead of the nice thing that happened after the bad thing and helped wash away the memories.

Even if the woman wants to go ahead, and the groom ignores the ward's advice, I also imagine the person performing the ceremony is going to ask the ward what they think, and there will need to be a good reason for them to ignore being told to wait too.

You've a hard task either explaining why the ward would give their blessing, or why everyone would ignore the ward's advice if they're all meant to be reasonable people.....if you can do all that, or you're going for "feelgood" rather than realistic, then go for it.

Craig

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 02:10 AM
Frankly, not all people in involuntary are that badly off. Maybe it depends on how rigorous your local law enforcement and mental health people are. One aquaintance I know was locked up for a sarcastic drunken comment, she was totally lucid as soon as she sobered up, but it took a while to get her out because her assigned psychatrist was impossible to contact for two days. So she would totally have had the ability to want to follow through with a marraige. If her boyfriend and a bureacrat visited, I bet she could have done it. Hopw would they stop her from signing a piece of paper in the waiting room? The powers that be would probably not even know it was happening.


Aha. That is an interesting idea. Are visitors searched? Could a visitor bring in papers and a pen, or are those things contraband?

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 02:14 AM
It should be legal in the sense that no legislation would restrict it, but I can't see it happening.

First off you have a capacity problem. Most powers of dentention have to argue that a person's capacity to make decisions is reduced or altered by a mental illness. It would be hard to argue that capacity was reduced but the decision to marry was made with proper consideration.

You've said your character is female. Unless you write the scene very well, you have a fine balance to walk between the groom coming off as a good guy, or someone who would exploit the vulnerability of his bride to be...unless that's what you're aiming for.

The ward are going to advise everyone to wait. If the groom is a good guy it's going to be hard to figure out why he'd ignore this advice and why he'd want his bride's memories of her wedding day to include being detained on a psychiatric ward, instead of the nice thing that happened after the bad thing and helped wash away the memories.

Even if the woman wants to go ahead, and the groom ignores the ward's advice, I also imagine the person performing the ceremony is going to ask the ward what they think, and there will need to be a good reason for them to ignore being told to wait too.

You've a hard task either explaining why the ward would give their blessing, or why everyone would ignore the ward's advice if they're all meant to be reasonable people.....if you can do all that, or you're going for "feelgood" rather than realistic, then go for it.

Craig

These are excellent points. I think the marriage is going to be more of a legal document, certifying that this guy is her next of kin, than a love birds kind of ceremony. I like your points about the groom. I think he's going to have to swing both ways on the good guy/ exploitive bastard issue.

Thank you for these good suggestions!

Giant Baby
08-31-2010, 02:30 AM
I had a brief but intense friendship when I was younger with a woman who was routinely held involuntarily (it's been a while, but I want to say it's 10 days here? I'm in Massachusetts, and we use section 12 for involuntary holds, as I recall). She was held three or four times in the year or so I knew her. She could have more than one visitor at a time- I know for certain at least two were okay, as long as the guests were not on "the list."

When I visited her, we were monitored, but only visually for the most part. If we were quietly getting married by another guest, I'm not sure staff would have caught on if it just looked like a conversation. My main concern would be the signatures. They'd need a pen, and guests wouldn't be able to bring anything inside a patient could use to harm themselves or others. However, if your MC is manipulative or cunning enough, she could probably sign the certificate under the eyes of the staff, if they had a workable reason to think it was something harmless.

The real problem is getting the marriage license beforehand, IMO. Both parties need to go down, so she'd have needed to know this was the plan before she was committed. Unless she's got a sister or friend who looks enough like her to carry off the fraud and get it for her.

As an aside, my friend routinely got her visitors priveledges revoked, and I'd just go to the fence around the smoking area and hang with her there. It was usually several minutes before I'd get sent off if I didn't come too close to the fence. The groom, officiant, witness (although, it'd be fun if one of the other patients served as witness- but that would probably only work in the indoors scenario), could all slip up, do it through the fence *really* quickly, and then she could sign the documents held up to the fence with a pen slipped through to her.

The groom and officient would need to be ready to work quick (seconds, not minutes) and haul ass as soon as they were through, and she'd definitely get caught and searched/restricted, but from my experience, it's not totally improbable that she could pull it off.

suki
08-31-2010, 02:47 AM
These are excellent points. I think the marriage is going to be more of a legal document, certifying that this guy is her next of kin, than a love birds kind of ceremony. I like your points about the groom. I think he's going to have to swing both ways on the good guy/ exploitive bastard issue.

Thank you for these good suggestions!

If all you want is him to be her next of kin, there's easier ways than marriage - if she's truly not at difficient mental capacity - ie, if she's not hallucinating, confused, etc. then she could easily sign a will. And that's more likely to get through than a marriage - she calls a friend who is a lawyer and he drafts a will, or she write a letter liek will herself. There's requirements for it to be valid, and you'd have to look them up, but the capacity to sign a will is less than what is required for contracts, including marriage. All kinds of people sign wills in "lucid moments" even when on a hold, if they are considered competent to do so - ie, in most states, they know who they are and what property they own and can articulate it.

OTOH, the slapstick smoking fence marriage could work, but the explanations for why the groom would go through with it would have to be good. Seems if she's only going to be held temporarily, why not wait?

~suki

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 03:13 AM
If all you want is him to be her next of kin, there's easier ways than marriage - if she's truly not at difficient mental capacity - ie, if she's not hallucinating, confused, etc. then she could easily sign a will. And that's more likely to get through than a marriage - she calls a friend who is a lawyer and he drafts a will, or she write a letter liek will herself. There's requirements for it to be valid, and you'd have to look them up, but the capacity to sign a will is less than what is required for contracts, including marriage. All kinds of people sign wills in "lucid moments" even when on a hold, if they are considered competent to do so - ie, in most states, they know who they are and what property they own and can articulate it.


~suki

Aha, this is also an interesting idea. Since they are unrelated, would he be her next of kin, though? While she is still alive, will he have any legal standing as a family member? I will look into it.

KTC
08-31-2010, 03:15 AM
might depend on administration, even if it is legal. they would have last word, i would guess...legalities aside.

shadowwalker
08-31-2010, 03:16 AM
There's a difference between being declared incompetent and being put on a psychiatric hold (of any length). One has to do with whether or not you have the mental capacity to make decisions, the other to do with your safety/the safety of others. A fine line, but there, nonetheless. Facilities do not have the right to prevent visitors, btw, unless they can prove that it's somehow dangerous. It can't be used as punishment. Clients also have the right to their own money and personal possessions - same restrictions on the facility. If they have the right to spend their money, they aren't "incompetent".

So yes, if they already have the license, the facility could not prevent the marriage unless they went back to a judge and had the client declared incompetent. Why they would do that, I don't know. But I don't know, as others have mentioned, why the rush to get married, either.

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 03:17 AM
I had a brief but intense friendship when I was younger with a woman who was routinely held involuntarily (it's been a while, but I want to say it's 10 days here? I'm in Massachusetts, and we use section 12 for involuntary holds, as I recall). She was held three or four times in the year or so I knew her. She could have more than one visitor at a time- I know for certain at least two were okay, as long as the guests were not on "the list."

When I visited her, we were monitored, but only visually for the most part. If we were quietly getting married by another guest, I'm not sure staff would have caught on if it just looked like a conversation. My main concern would be the signatures. They'd need a pen, and guests wouldn't be able to bring anything inside a patient could use to harm themselves or others. However, if your MC is manipulative or cunning enough, she could probably sign the certificate under the eyes of the staff, if they had a workable reason to think it was something harmless.

The real problem is getting the marriage license beforehand, IMO. Both parties need to go down, so she'd have needed to know this was the plan before she was committed. Unless she's got a sister or friend who looks enough like her to carry off the fraud and get it for her.

As an aside, my friend routinely got her visitors priveledges revoked, and I'd just go to the fence around the smoking area and hang with her there. It was usually several minutes before I'd get sent off if I didn't come too close to the fence. The groom, officiant, witness (although, it'd be fun if one of the other patients served as witness- but that would probably only work in the indoors scenario), could all slip up, do it through the fence *really* quickly, and then she could sign the documents held up to the fence with a pen slipped through to her.

The groom and officient would need to be ready to work quick (seconds, not minutes) and haul ass as soon as they were through, and she'd definitely get caught and searched/restricted, but from my experience, it's not totally improbable that she could pull it off.

This is very helpful and interesting. It is really interesting that a holding area would have a chain link fence. Can you elaborate as to how they kept this area secured? I would love to use something like what you've described, but I'm very curious as to how the staff tried to keep that area secure.

shadowwalker
08-31-2010, 03:21 AM
Aha, this is also an interesting idea. Since they are unrelated, would he be her next of kin, though? While she is still alive, will he have any legal standing as a family member? I will look into it.

For more detail:

http://definitions.uslegal.com/n/next-of-kin/

Appears it only has any real meaning when the person has died.

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 03:23 AM
There's a difference between being declared incompetent and being put on a psychiatric hold (of any length). One has to do with whether or not you have the mental capacity to make decisions, the other to do with your safety/the safety of others. A fine line, but there, nonetheless. Facilities do not have the right to prevent visitors, btw, unless they can prove that it's somehow dangerous. It can't be used as punishment. Clients also have the right to their own money and personal possessions - same restrictions on the facility. If they have the right to spend their money, they aren't "incompetent".

So yes, if they already have the license, the facility could not prevent the marriage unless they went back to a judge and had the client declared incompetent. Why they would do that, I don't know. But I don't know, as others have mentioned, why the rush to get married, either.

Thank you for the distinction between declared incompetent and psychiatric hold. As for the rush to get married, I guess I haven't entirely sketched the reasoning behind that out yet. I wanted to find out if the marriage thing was even a possibility before I built anything else on that foundation. :)

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 03:25 AM
For more detail:

http://definitions.uslegal.com/n/next-of-kin/

Appears it only has any real meaning when the person has died.

This is still a very interesting alley you've opened up. Perhaps there is some other type of legal document to get me where I want to go. *starts thinking about where exactly this story is going*

Thank you!

Giant Baby
08-31-2010, 05:34 AM
This is very helpful and interesting. It is really interesting that a holding area would have a chain link fence. Can you elaborate as to how they kept this area secured? I would love to use something like what you've described, but I'm very curious as to how the staff tried to keep that area secure.

There were a few staff who would come down with the patients, and they had to pass through a number of locked doors to get outside (I went down with her from the inside several times when she wasn't on visitor restriction). Really, the only security I can recall was the chain link fence and the staff (usually some of the larger guys came down). The staff mostly stood around talking to each other, or sometimes to the patients. I seem to recall these trips outside lasting about 20-30 minutes.

If you want to get some idea, Google Map 6o Granit3 Str33t, Lynn, MA and put it on satellite view. I really couldn't tell you which building it was at this point, or which plot of grass, but it's pretty clear there are no walls or larger barriers.

AyJay
08-31-2010, 06:06 AM
I've worked and visited patients at psychiatric hospitals in NY so things may be different in CA (though I doubt it). But as ShadowWalker mentioned, visitation to a psych facility isn't nearly as restrictive as you might think.

Another angle - many patients start out at the psych unit in a hospital, or even just a regular room at a hospital, until they're moved to another facility. And there are very few long term facilities these days. De-institutionalization in the 70's/80's got rid of the dreary places depicted in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Between the new standards to provide the least restrictive setting for patients and "mangled care," there's a push to get patients out of hospitals as soon as possible.

So anyway, if you want people visiting your character at the hospital, like a general hospital with a psych unit, it's could be pretty much the same as visiting any patient. You sit with the person in their room (a shared room likely). You can take a walk around the unit. Maybe there's a lounge with a TV and games.

When I interned at a psych facility, there was a similar layout to what Giant described. Patients had a fenced in outdoor area, and it was only monitored intermittently. The grounds were completely open. Of course, doors to buildings were locked, but you could easily walk over to the outdoor area and talk to someone through the fence (maybe for 10 minutes or so before someone would catch you).

And just another random thought to throw out. Kitty's right that it can be damn hard getting admitted to a hospital. And Veinglory's right too that sometimes people are admitted who are really not in that bad shape. It's like any kind of medical care: the availability of beds/medical insurance will trump the urgency. So if you don't want your character to be severely incapacitated, you might want to set it up that it's a slow night at the psych hospital, i.e. they want to fill beds.

wheelwriter
08-31-2010, 07:29 AM
If you are looking for an avenue for one person to have the authority to make medical decisions for another, then maybe a Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare would do. Depending on the state, that may require a notary and/or two witnesses. This doesn't mean the other person could make the decisions, since a doctor would need to determine that the patient lacked the capacity to make their own decisions. In your story, what is the purpose of getting one character to be considered next of kin?

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 08:04 AM
If you are looking for an avenue for one person to have the authority to make medical decisions for another, then maybe a Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare would do. Depending on the state, that may require a notary and/or two witnesses. This doesn't mean the other person could make the decisions, since a doctor would need to determine that the patient lacked the capacity to make their own decisions. In your story, what is the purpose of getting one character to be considered next of kin?


The surface reason is so that the husband can be her legal and medical advocate, and as her situation progresses, he has a maximum ability to stay connected to her (increased visitation, better ability to consult with her doctors, his insurance might help cover the expenses) than he would have as a friend. This character has other hidden motives that are less on the up&up.

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 08:06 AM
Thank you Giant and AyJay - your comments are very helpful.

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 08:11 AM
Another angle - many patients start out at the psych unit in a hospital, or even just a regular room at a hospital, until they're moved to another facility. And there are very few long term facilities these days. De-institutionalization in the 70's/80's got rid of the dreary places depicted in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Between the new standards to provide the least restrictive setting for patients and "mangled care," there's a push to get patients out of hospitals as soon as possible.



I have been considering this, and how hard it seems to be to get a character to be placed in a long term institution.

This is a long shot, but do you happen to know about what happens if someone in a psych unit is accused of a crime and deemed incompetent to stand trial?

I have heard that while a person is in this limbo, (can't go to trial, can't necessarily go free) they may be kept in a psychiatric hospital until they regain legal competence or some type of time limit expires. Do you happen to know anything about that?

Thank you!

AyJay
08-31-2010, 05:34 PM
This is a long shot, but do you happen to know about what happens if someone in a psych unit is accused of a crime and deemed incompetent to stand trial?

I have heard that while a person is in this limbo, (can't go to trial, can't necessarily go free) they may be kept in a psychiatric hospital until they regain legal competence or some type of time limit expires. Do you happen to know anything about that?

Unfortunately I don't. Hopefully some other experts here will. Good luck.

shadowwalker
08-31-2010, 06:06 PM
This is a long shot, but do you happen to know about what happens if someone in a psych unit is accused of a crime and deemed incompetent to stand trial?

I have heard that while a person is in this limbo, (can't go to trial, can't necessarily go free) they may be kept in a psychiatric hospital until they regain legal competence or some type of time limit expires. Do you happen to know anything about that?

I'm assuming you mean they were accused before ending up in the psych unit. Then they would be held in a secure psychiatric facility until they were deemed competent for trial. Note, this would be a secure facility, not the open campus. So basically, like being held without bail in jail until trial. There would be no time limit on how long they could be held - it would all depend on when the doctors determined they were once again competent. Once they are, they would be transferred to jail to await trial.

Now, if they were to commit a crime while already in a psych unit, a lot of what would happen would depend on the severity of a crime. Typically, unless it involves bodily harm to another patient or staff member, it's handled 'in house' by staff. If it's more serious, then they'd be arrested and charged and be transferred to a secure facility (or the secure area of the hospital) and move on as above.

DeleyanLee
08-31-2010, 06:40 PM
Very recent experience, though it's in Ohio, not Calif.

My daughter attempted suicide last month. She was taken by ambulance and held in ICU until she was physically out of danger, then transfered to the psych ward. It was state law, she didn't have a choice, and she was mandated there for 5-14 days. In her case, it was 7.

All the rooms were private or semi-private and there was a large common room that had the only phone families could call in on. There were several phones so different people could be on at the same time, but there were no phones in the privacy of the room. The common room always had at least one attendant at all times.

They took her belt and cell phone. She was allowed paper and pens in the common area, but not in her room. She was allowed up to 4 visitors at a time, which she could see in the common room or the visiting room (BIG glass windows and no doors), or outside in the fenced-in yard (wood, not chain-link) but not in her room.

Outside of the mandatory daily meeting with a psych doctor/fellow, her time was pretty much her own.

It's totally believeable to me that she could've gotten married at that time if she'd wanted to. Any prospective groom wouldn't necessarily come off as a slime, depending on how well you set him up prior to this happening. Husbands have greater rights to an inpatient than any other relationship, even parents, so I can see where he/she/they might see this as a good thing, depending on who they are as people.

Depending on the laws of the state, I've heard of lawyers going down and getting marriage licenses for their clients. I'm not sure what's what for Calif, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

Personally, I think it could be done believeably if written correctly. It's fiction, after all.

wittyusernamehere
08-31-2010, 06:42 PM
I'm assuming you mean they were accused before ending up in the psych unit. Then they would be held in a secure psychiatric facility until they were deemed competent for trial. Note, this would be a secure facility, not the open campus. So basically, like being held without bail in jail until trial. There would be no time limit on how long they could be held - it would all depend on when the doctors determined they were once again competent. Once they are, they would be transferred to jail to await trial.

Now, if they were to commit a crime while already in a psych unit, a lot of what would happen would depend on the severity of a crime. Typically, unless it involves bodily harm to another patient or staff member, it's handled 'in house' by staff. If it's more serious, then they'd be arrested and charged and be transferred to a secure facility (or the secure area of the hospital) and move on as above.

Cool! (From a purposes-of-story standpoint, anyway) Thank you. This is very helpful.

Shakesbear
08-31-2010, 07:18 PM
I am not sure if this is relevant - in the UK places have to have a license in order to hold weddings in them. I very much doubt if any psych unit would be licensed. Would the same apply in the US? Just curious. Though it would mean that the persons mental state would not matter if the wedding could not be held there because the place is not licensed.

jclarkdawe
08-31-2010, 08:12 PM
One thing to understand is that there are several different levels of psychiatric units with varying levels of security. For example, in New Hampshire there is the Secured Psychiatric Unit (SPU), which is connected to the NH State Prison. This is for holding people who are determined to be incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. Differences between it and the state prison are purely accidental.

Least restrictive are the psychiatric units at several hospitals. These are sometimes used for involuntary holds. Security is minimal, mainly concerned with preventing smuggling and limiting visitors and preventing patients from walking off without tracking them. Some patients will be voluntary, able to sign themselves out at any point.

Then there is the State Hospital, which provides several levels of care and security, depending upon dangerousness, lucidity, behavior issues, and rewards gained. Especially during a short stay with good responses to medication, this can change drastically in a day.

So some facilities you could probably have a marriage in, and others you can't. It has happened, but it is unusual. But it's possible to set up some external constraints that would require a marriage.

Providing that the patient is competent. Competency means many different things to an attorney, from completely competent to completely incompetent. For example, a person may be able to take care of themselves (eat, wash, not harm one's self) but unable to manage their financial affairs. (This is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship.) You can be competent to manage your financial affairs, but making "poor" decisions.

You're not going to be on an involuntary commitment and completely competent. Another way of saying this is you're not going to be of "sound" mind. Actions that you take with legal consequences such as a will, divorce, marriage are all going to be able to be legally challenged, and a challenge will probably succeed. Roughly speaking, the standard is does the action make sense.

One of the requirements of a marriage ceremony is a public avowal of the wedding. That's the point of the witnesses. So secret weddings have a problem, although on some occasions they've been allowed. But many times a secret wedding is annulled by the court.

A wedding that makes logical sense in a psychiatric unit, providing the patient is competent to make decisions, would be presumptively valid, but relatively easy to annul, especially by the parents or children of either party.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Wiskel
08-31-2010, 08:14 PM
I'm assuming you mean they were accused before ending up in the psych unit. Then they would be held in a secure psychiatric facility until they were deemed competent for trial. Note, this would be a secure facility, not the open campus. So basically, like being held without bail in jail until trial. There would be no time limit on how long they could be held - it would all depend on when the doctors determined they were once again competent. Once they are, they would be transferred to jail to await trial.

Now, if they were to commit a crime while already in a psych unit, a lot of what would happen would depend on the severity of a crime. Typically, unless it involves bodily harm to another patient or staff member, it's handled 'in house' by staff. If it's more serious, then they'd be arrested and charged and be transferred to a secure facility (or the secure area of the hospital) and move on as above.

There are a couple more options than this, at least in the uk....but you are right that it makes a difference whether you get charged with a crime before you go to hospital, or while you are there.

If you get caught and go before the judge, and are deemed not to have capacity to stand trial, then the judge has the option to send you to a psychiatric ward for assessment before trial (pretty much to await trial when you're better as you say) but a UK judge also has the power to send you to hospital with no recall for trial at a later date.

The judge's discretion is to specify detention on a section of the mental health act and they can impose a restriction order (meaning that the doctors need the Home Office's permission to discharge you) or not.

If no restriction order is placed then basically you go to hospital and the doctors discharge you home when you're well enough...even if that's a week later.

If a restriction order is placed and you never become well then the secure hospital becomes your prison indefinately. If you become well then you go and face trail and deal with your punishment.

There have to be options. It would make no sense for a person charged with shoplifting to spend their entire life on a secure psychiatric ward just because they were never well enough to stand trial when they might be much better cared for in a different setting like a group residential home or rehabilitation unit.

If you're charged with a minor offence while on a psych ward then usually everyone just delays the trial for a bit. If it's a major offense then you end up in front of the judge who has the same powers of detention, with or without the restriction order.

Craig

DeleyanLee
08-31-2010, 08:18 PM
One of the requirements of a marriage ceremony is a public avowal of the wedding. That's the point of the witnesses. So secret weddings have a problem, although on some occasions they've been allowed. But many times a secret wedding is annulled by the court.

FWIW, when I got married in Ohio in 1986 (it may have changed by now), there was no place on the wedding license for witnesses to sign. All that was required was the official, bride and groom. It didn't even have to be witnessed by a notary.

If that's all that's required after that is that the license be filed appropriately for the marriage to be legal and binding, actually having a ceremony isn't as important as getting the documents signed. Tradition demands there's some kind of ceremony, but technically I don't think it's mandatory from a legal standpoint. After all, many people today are having ceremonies without the legal paperwork and aren't legally considered married, just socially married.

All depends on the laws of the state at the time of the marriage.

jclarkdawe
08-31-2010, 09:14 PM
Originally Posted by jclarkdawe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5292433#post5292433)
One of the requirements of a marriage ceremony is a public avowal of the wedding. That's the point of the witnesses. So secret weddings have a problem, although on some occasions they've been allowed. But many times a secret wedding is annulled by the court.FWIW, when I got married in Ohio in 1986 (it may have changed by now), there was no place on the wedding license for witnesses to sign. All that was required was the official, bride and groom. It didn't even have to be witnessed by a notary.

If that's all that's required after that is that the license be filed appropriately for the marriage to be legal and binding, actually having a ceremony isn't as important as getting the documents signed. Tradition demands there's some kind of ceremony, but technically I don't think it's mandatory from a legal standpoint. After all, many people today are having ceremonies without the legal paperwork and aren't legally considered married, just socially married.

All depends on the laws of the state at the time of the marriage.

When I got married in New Hampshire, witnesses were required. Then later, when I was a Justice of the Peace (nearly every attorney in NH is a JP so that we could swear witnesses) and did a couple of ceremonies, they weren't required. The witnesses are just a formalization of the public avowal, but not required.

If you go around denying you were married, that no one attended your wedding, and that you are single, if push comes to shove, then a judge is probably going to say you are single, marriage certificate and two witnesses signing it or not. Until relatively recently, marriage certificates were not the be all and end all of defining when a marriage occurred. Not even the lack of a licensed official would result in a marriage being held invalid if the couple had been publicly avowed by them. Still happens in the US occasionally because some people don't believe in government interference with such a basic ceremony.

I know of a couple who were "married" back in the sixties. Never had the "formal" ceremony, but everybody "knew" they were married. Many of us were invited to the ceremony, although how competent some of us were to witness anything was questionable. Husband recently died, and some hassles with Social Security arouse due to the lack of marriage certificate. The probate judge didn't even require any witness, just took affidavits and declared that their ceremony was "legal" and that legally they were married.

Within the context of the posted question, a secret ceremony, with or without witnesses, at a mental health facility, where at least one of the parties to the marriage is suffering some level of diminished capacity to make decisions, would be hard to support in front of a judge for an annulment. It could survive, but it would be at least an uphill fight, and probably the uphill would feel like a cliff.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

GeorgeK
08-31-2010, 09:18 PM
It probably would depend upon the jurisdiction and whether anyone complained "after the fact". It's sort of a catch 22 that people can sign themselves into a psych unit, but not sign themselves out. My guess is that legally they could get married but that having been married while in a psychiatric facility would constitute automatic grounds for divorce or annullment.

DeleyanLee
08-31-2010, 09:33 PM
Assuming, of course, that either party is interested in a divorce or annulment, of course.

But, then, if they were doing the whole marriage for a sort of convenience while she's in the psych ward, why is getting an easy annulment afterward such a bad thing?

Totally depends on what the OP wants to do with the characters and the story.

wittyusernamehere
09-01-2010, 08:37 AM
Very recent experience, though it's in Ohio, not Calif.

My daughter attempted suicide last month. She was taken by ambulance and held in ICU until she was physically out of danger, then transfered to the psych ward. It was state law, she didn't have a choice, and she was mandated there for 5-14 days. In her case, it was 7.

All the rooms were private or semi-private and there was a large common room that had the only phone families could call in on. There were several phones so different people could be on at the same time, but there were no phones in the privacy of the room. The common room always had at least one attendant at all times.

They took her belt and cell phone. She was allowed paper and pens in the common area, but not in her room. She was allowed up to 4 visitors at a time, which she could see in the common room or the visiting room (BIG glass windows and no doors), or outside in the fenced-in yard (wood, not chain-link) but not in her room.

Outside of the mandatory daily meeting with a psych doctor/fellow, her time was pretty much her own.

It's totally believeable to me that she could've gotten married at that time if she'd wanted to. Any prospective groom wouldn't necessarily come off as a slime, depending on how well you set him up prior to this happening. Husbands have greater rights to an inpatient than any other relationship, even parents, so I can see where he/she/they might see this as a good thing, depending on who they are as people.

Depending on the laws of the state, I've heard of lawyers going down and getting marriage licenses for their clients. I'm not sure what's what for Calif, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

Personally, I think it could be done believeably if written correctly. It's fiction, after all.


This is incredibly helpful! Thinking good thoughts for you and your daughter.

wittyusernamehere
09-01-2010, 09:00 AM
jclarkdawe - Thank you for the good information! I was curious about this:



One of the requirements of a marriage ceremony is a public avowal of the wedding. That's the point of the witnesses. So secret weddings have a problem, although on some occasions they've been allowed. But many times a secret wedding is annulled by the court.

<s> Do you mean that if the bride and groom simply sign the wedding certificate in front of a witness without doing an "Do you, I do" kind of verbal agreement that the legality of the marriage could be in question or the marriage would somehow be disallowed? Or do you mean that it would be easier to dissolve the marriage later? </s>

Thanks again for all your time and thoughts!

ETA: Oh, I see you have answered this! Oops! And thanks for the answer also.

jclarkdawe
09-01-2010, 04:42 PM
jclarkdawe - Thank you for the good information! I was curious about this:



<s> Do you mean that if the bride and groom simply sign the wedding certificate in front of a witness without doing an "Do you, I do" kind of verbal agreement that the legality of the marriage could be in question or the marriage would somehow be disallowed? Or do you mean that it would be easier to dissolve the marriage later? </s>

Thanks again for all your time and thoughts!

ETA: Oh, I see you have answered this! Oops! And thanks for the answer also.

Let me expand this a bit more and define terms. There are two ways to end a marriage. One of these is through a divorce and the other is through an annulment. There is a vast difference between the two.

Divorce can only be brought by the parties to the marriage. In nearly every state now divorces can be no-fault. Fifty years ago you had to have grounds such as cruelty, incarceration, adultry, or other grounds specifically specified by statute. Now all you have to do when you get divorced is go in front of a judge and say "I don't want to be married anymore." A marriage that ends in a divorce, even if the divorce is filed the next day (happened to one of my clients when his new wife sobered up). To give you a simple example, a tax return filed as joint is valid even if you then get divorced.

Annulments are vastly different. An annulment says that the marriage never, ever existed. Going back to the tax return example, if you filed jointly and then had the marriage annulled, you have to file an amended return and each party filed singly. Annulments can be brought by the parties, but they can also be brought by interested individuals such as your parents or children.

To give you an example connected somewhat to your issues, let's take a look at Lucy the Lucky. Lucy is lucky because although she has a face that stops traffic (and not in a good way), Lucy is rich, rich, rich. Let's say she's worth $100 million unencumbered money. Harry the Hustler, knowing a good thing when he sees it, and loving any woman in green, starts convincing Lucy that he's the most wonderful man in the world, those vacations in San Quentin notwithstanding.

Harry, having made the mistake of looking Lucy in the face, and not in the wallet, gets into a fight with Lucy and storms off. Lucy, disappointed, enjoys a quart of Tylenol laced Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and gets a visit to her friendly, neighborhood ER. Her doctor, concerned about a repeat, has her involuntarily committed as a danger to herself.

Mom and dad are happy, because their precious baby is safe. However, Harry figures out that thinking green is important, and goes to the hospital, convincing Lucy he does love the Irish green in her. They get married, certificate signed, legal official, and witnesses. All legal requirements of a marriage are met.

As all things do, her stay in the hospital comes to an end. When he signs the paperwork, and is asked his relationship to her, he says friend. They maintain separate apartments, although spending considerable time together, along with her wallet. He's now the proud owner of a Ferrari, the registration reading Mr. and Mrs. Harry the Hustler. She tells mommy and daddy she's married. Harry does not tell Betty the Bombshell, his super-hot girlfriend, that he's married, and when specifically asked by Betty, denies it. Lucy starts planning for a wedding reception.

Lucy, having many health risks, is crushed by a safe that 'accidently' falls on her as she's walking down the street. Pursuant to state law, spouses are entitled by law to 50% of their deceased estate, regardless of will (normal provision of state law). That means Harry the Hustler now has enough to really enjoy a trip to Vegas ($50 million). Or does he?

The marriage is presumptively valid, as evidenced by the marriage certificate. But the parents don't want Harry getting the money if they can help it. A divorce won't help, as even if you can do a divorce after death, it won't effect the validity of the marriage, as a divorce cannot be finalized within thirty days of filing by state law (this factor varies from state to state).

So Lucy's parents go to Squirrel, Chipmunk, and Hamster, Attorneys at Law, who suggest filing for an annulment. If the annulment is granted, the marriage never existed and Harry loses $50 million. If Harry wins, he's going to be living in the family compound with mommy and daddy, rolling in the cash, until he loses it at poker. The judge will look at the totality of the circumstances, such as the marriage certificate, the state of mind of the parties, but also the public avowal of the marriage. Did Lucy act like she was married? Did Harry act like he was married? (By the way, this is the same approach Immigration uses.)

Are they married? Or not? Is Harry rich beyond his normal dreams for him? Or is he going to be marched out of the family compound, his Ferarri keys ripped from his fingers, having only the comfort of Betty the Bombshell?

Stay tuned at your favorite squirrel station to find out.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

GeorgeK
09-01-2010, 04:58 PM
\ An annulment says that the marriage never, ever existed.

No, that is so wrong (at least in the Roman Catholic tradition). An anullment means that the marriage was wrong and should never have taken place in the beginning. That has vastly far reaching meanings far different than never having happened, both legally and religiously.

DeleyanLee
09-01-2010, 05:11 PM
Mondo interesting, Jim. Thanks for all that, but I'm curious if this is a state-by-state thing. I remember when I went in for my divorce consultation in Michigan, I was specifically told that annulments were something granted by the church, not the state. First you had to get legally divorced THEN you got the marriage annuled by the church. My pastor (Luthern) confirmed that, FWIW.

Thus, my curiosity.

jclarkdawe
09-01-2010, 09:21 PM
Mondo interesting, Jim. Thanks for all that, but I'm curious if this is a state-by-state thing. I remember when I went in for my divorce consultation in Michigan, I was specifically told that annulments were something granted by the church, not the state. First you had to get legally divorced THEN you got the marriage annuled by the church. My pastor (Luthern) confirmed that, FWIW.

Thus, my curiosity.

Legally getting a marriage annulled and getting a church to annul a marriage are two separate things. I have no idea about the procedures as far as any churches are concerned. Legally you can get an annulment regardless of whether or not you are a member of a church.

Michigan legal aid has the following guidelines:



Annulment

Different than a divorce, in an annulment case, one of the parties is asking the Court to decide that there never was a legal marriage in the first place.


How is an annulment different than a divorce or separate maintenance?
In order for the Court to order a divorce or separate maintenance, the Judge needs to decide that there was a valid marriage that has "broken down" and that there is no reasonable possibility that it can be saved. In an annulment case, one of the parties is asking the Court to decide that there NEVER was a legal marriage in the first place.
How long do I have to be married in order for the Judge to decide that it is a legal marriage?
The length of time that the people are married has nothing to do with whether it is a legal marriage or one that can be "annulled."
If the length of time doesn't matter, what are some of the reasons that a marriage might not be "legal?"
There are some laws preventing certain people from getting married. For example, certain relatives cannot marry in Michigan. A person who already has a husband or wife cannot legally marry. There are also some laws that allow people to marry only if his or her legal guardian gives consent. These include adults who have been declared "legally incompetent" by the Probate Court. If one of these people does get married, the marriage is absolutely void.
Exactly, which relatives are prevented from marrying?
A man cannot marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, stepmother, grandfather's wife, son's wife, grandson's wife, wife's mother, wife's grandmother, wife's granddaughter, his sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister, mother's sister or a first cousin.
A woman cannot marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, stepfather, grandmother's husband, daughter's husband, granddaughter's husband, husband's father, husband's grandfather, husband's son, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother, mother's brother, or a first cousin.

Doesn't the law also say that you cannot get married without your parent's consent unless you are an adult?
Yes. Michigan law provides that no one under 16 years old can get married even with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. (In some cases, traditionally if the girl was pregnant, a Probate Judge could give consent if one of the parties was under 16 years old; however, this is rarely done.) Before a marriage license can be issued to any person who is between 16 years old and 18 years old, the person must have a notarized statement of at least one parent giving consent to the marriage.

What are some other reasons that a marriage might not be "legal"?
A marriage is not legal if one of the parties only agreed because they were forced or deliberately fooled into agreeing to the marriage.

Does that mean I can get an annulment if he promised to stop drinking if I married him or said he would buy me an engagement ring after we were married and didn't or . .?
No. What the law mean by "fraud" is that person was mislead about the fact that they were agreeing to marriage some fact is hidden from the person that is important to having a marriage. For example, a woman is told that it is a "play practice" and then finds that it was a real wedding. The other kind of situation is where, knowing that the other man expects to have children of the marriage, doesn't tell him that her tubes have been tied.

When can the Court annul a marriage?
If the marriage is not valid because the person was already married or a relative or "legally incompetent", the Court will declare that marriage absolutely void.

If one or both parties say that the marriage was not valid because they were under age or didn't have parental consent, the marriage can be annulled unless the couple continued to live together as husband and wife after they turned 18 years old.

If one party wants a marriage annulled because of force or fraud, it can be unless the parties lived together voluntarily as husband and wife after the fraud was discovered.

What if the marriage is annulled and there are children? Are they illegitimate?
No. The law specifically provides that children born during a marriage that is annulled continue to be treated under the law as legitimate children of the parties. The Court can issue orders for custody, support and parenting time in a Judgment of Annulment the same as in a Judgment of Divorce or Separate Maintenance.

Is it easier to get an annulment than a divorce?
No. The legal procedures and paperwork are about the same and, unlike "no fault" divorce, proving that one of the situations above is true and that there has not been any consent by living together afterward can sometimes be difficultThere are additional grounds, beyond what's presented here. And I don't know in Michigan, but in New Hampshire, an annulment can be a lot more complicated than a divorce, unless you meet the narrow statutory grounds.

As is clear by the issues and controversy surrounding gay marriages, this is a state issue, not federal. Definitely some states have vastly different aspects of this issue. For example, in New Hampshire, John and Larry can marry. If they move to Massachusetts, they're still married. If they move to Michigan, the courts no longer recognize the marriage. Texas is now grappling with a couple from Massachusetts who moved there, are gay, married in Massachusetts legally, and now need a divorce. In Texas, which is now their legal residence.

Further, probate courts have a fair amount of discretion in accomplishing justice, so sometimes the statute is not followed.

In addition, you have the non-married marriage. People that live together in some states become common law marriages. But many states don't have that status. However, when the parties separate, you can go into court and obtain property division, child support, and maintenance (alimony in divorce). It looks like a divorce, feels like a divorce, quacks like a divorce, but isn't one.


Best of luck,


Jim Clark-Dawe

Xelebes
09-03-2010, 10:15 PM
Doctors and therapists strongly discourage any substantial changes to the life around the patient while going through therapy. This would include beginning a sexual relationship, marriage, moving between places, taking on jobs (unless it is work therapy) and so forth. If a judge was called to adjudicate the marriage under the roof at which the therapy is taking place, the doctors and therapists would likely be the ones to oppose the marriage, at least until the therapy is complete.

veinglory
09-03-2010, 10:39 PM
A person who is involuntary committed may not care much what their assigned therapist recommends--they may also only see them for a few minutes every few days....