Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Anyone granted guardianship of their spouse?

I’ve spoken with the Sheriff and was told that they couldn’t take my wife to the hospital for a mental health evaluation unless she was a threat to herself or others. I was told the same thing by the county designated mental health professional. There is a recent law that says that if the CDMHP will not take the person to the hospital after evaluation, or has not done so within 48 hours of evaluation that I can go to a judge and get a court order. But that requires an evaluation from the CDMHP, which I can’t get. The CDMHP suggested using my employee assistance program at work, talk to a lawyer, and see what my options are for getting medical guardianship. Anyone taken this route to get a spouse seen by a mental health professional?

I am new to this site but felt the need to respond although the guardianship was for my son, who was in his mid thirties at the time. Prior to guardianship, I could not get him the help he needed for the same reason you stated. However, I did get the crisis center to help and they were able to get him admitted. My son has been hospitalized at least 30 times since 2015. The hospitals can not force medication unless there is a court order or there is a guardianship. I did not want to be his guardian, but in one of the hospitalization the psychiatrist did not want to take the time to go through the courts. He accused my son of hitting him and told me that he was going to press charges against my son if I do not go for guardianship. Of course I didn’t want this to happen so I agreed. My son was discharged with a sealed envelope, with the expert evaluation that is required signed by a psychiatrist stating that my son is incompetent, to file for guardianship. I really did not want to become his guardian. However, he soon ended up in the hospital again so I filed for guardianship to help my son get the help he needs quicker than through the courts. Fast forward 2 years, my son is in a residential outpatient assisted home, a step down from the state hospital, under AOT (assisted out patient therapy I believe) through the courts. The psychiatrist under this program felt that being his mother and guardian was not good for getting my son into recovery because my son blames me for everything (I had to sell his home and his car, as his wife left him; he also had a career job with a 401K that I had to put in a trust, which is under my name as trustee, plus SSD mandated that my name is the payee on his social security). So I am no longer his guardian because the psychiatrist in the AOT program stated my son does not require a guardian, other than for financial issues (guardianship renew annually with supporting expect evaluation). Recently he was admitted and has been in the hospital for well over 6 weeks. My son continues to refuse his medications so another hearing took place to get a court order to administer medication against his will. This just took place 2 days ago, and I have no clue as to what happened because I am not guardian. My son did call me yesterday and stated they gave him a shot. I can not ask him any more about his medications because he gets very angry with me.

My son first got sick in his senior year at college, but he managed to graduate 2003 and worked a career job for 13 years, taking his medications. However, when his medication changed in 2015, so did his illness. Every time he need hospitalization was because he felt that his old medication was fine and would not take any new medication. My son’s mental illness continues to get worse with each breakdown. He no longer has any insight into his illness which is now diagnosed as an SMI - severe mental illness.

This did get lengthy, but I am hoping my experience will help you decide if the guardianship is needed. I love my son deeply and I pray that you will stand by your spouse during this time.

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I am so sorry and appreciate all that you have shared.

My experience with guardianship is that judges grant guardianships very reluctantly unless it is clear that the person is repeatedly of danger to himself or others. You will need lots of facts to that regard (repeated hospitalizations is a good one). There can be differing degrees of guardianship/ conservatorship, which may or may not include control of the person’s assets. Meds cannot be forced (at least in my state) even with a guardianship, however, it seems to make giving meds involuntarily a bit easier, especially if the person is not responsive. They just don’t hold people down to give meds! With a guardianship, you CAN have say over where the person is. A professional case manager told me that if the person wanders off or disappears, you can legally have them picked up and transported somewhere (possibly at your own expense?)

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@hope4us in the state we live in the guardianship can give permission for forced medication. You are correct regarding judges granting guardianship. To be truthful, I am grateful that I am not his guardian due to his severity of his illness and his anger toward me. I had guardianship of the person only.

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Thank you both for your reply. I will talk to my employee assistance program, but I don’t think guardianship would be approved. My wife has never been hospitalized and is likely not dysfunctional enough. I’ll likely have to settle with her having anasognosia, being unmedicated, not seeing a dentist, and not seeing our daughter until our daughter is 18 and makes her own choice. In the meantime I’ll keep up seeing our daughter twice a week.

The only way I truly know how to have any possibility to help someone who has anosognosia and is refusing treatment is to use the LEAP strategy. I encourage you to look at posts elsewhere on this site about anosognosia, LEAP, LEAPinstitute.org, and the book “I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Xavier Amador.