I Think My Brother-In-Law May Be Schizophrenic, What Can I Legally Do To Help?


My husband and I believe that his brother may be schizophrenic. His mom is schizophrenic and we think his brother may be showing signs of it as well. He’s had lots of hallucinations as of late - mostly thinking that his wife is sleeping with people or people are in his house.

Just this morning, he called the police thinking that there were people breaking into his house. The police came and had him Baker Acted, since he lives in Florida. So at least for the next 72 hours, he’ll be under some sort of care. And a few weeks prior, he as on a cruise with his wife, and thought he saw her being intimate with some friends on the cruise. The friends weren’t even on the cruise. He got so hysterical that he had to be tranquilized and flown off the cruise ship to a hospital in Florida. His wife has recently left him, because she just couldn’t deal with his accusations of cheating and walking around their house with a gun trying to find the guy.

My brother-in-law lives in Florida, and my husband and I are Georgia and we feel absolutely helpless. Because my husband’s mom is schizophrenic and heavily medicated, she isn’t of much help. The wife is so distraught with all of this, and doesn’t have any money or a car, to deal with this. So this leaves my husband and I as pretty much the only competent adults, that could do something to help - but we just don’t know what we can do though.

Supposedly my brother-in-law has been seeing a doctor - but we don’t know what kind and if he is even on medication. We only hear filtered stories through my husband’s mom, and she leaves out facts to protect his ego. Plus, whatever she does hear from her son, isn’t always true. My husband has tried calling his brother multiple times, but they’ve never gotten along well, and he won’t answer his calls. My husband is contemplating going down to Florida to get some straight facts.

What can we legally do to get my brother-in-law the help that he needs? Do we have him put into a mental hospital? Can we do that since he’s an adult or would he have to admit himself? Any suggestions of what we could do, would be greatly appreciated.

if he’s your brother-in-law, then help the sister put him into a hospital and than help her get a divorce from him!

oh wait, I re-read this, I see, the man is your husband’s brother.
then yes, I would help the poor wife, ask her “what can we help you with today?” nobody thinks of the caregiving spouse. I’m sure she does need a divorce… I know I did when my ex husband needed to go into a mental hospital, nobody helped me. give her some money so she can get out of there, she must be out of her mind with concern.

help her setup her own bank accounts, as he’s not capable of making decisions about finances if he’s psychotic, help her start to put things into her own name. she can’t do anything if they have joint accounts, own or rent property together, have car payments together etc. she has to start separating herself from that mess on paper.

i know i sound harsh, but now I get it. I really don’t believe you can have a relationship with a psychotic person, nor is it anyone’s responsibility to care for the psychotic person, having been there, I feel strongly about it.

my cousin was in Florida and Baker Act’d, she’s told me about that. she ended up getting social security disability and SSI and has never worked since, that was 17 years ago.

if this woman married to this brother-in-law chooses to stay, she would be his guardian, but as I said bank accounts have to be separated.

I’m not sure what it’s like in Florida, but the staff probably won’t talk to you if your brother-in-law isn’t willing to sign a release of information, but you can talk to the staff and let them know what’s been going on with your brother-in-law. They can’t talk to you, but you can talk to them.

I agree with Joanne. The doctors will not talk to you unless your brother in law gives them permission. I have the same issues with my own son since he is over 18. Luckily my son allows the staff to talk to me but if he doesn’t give permission the staff can not give you any information. However, you can say to the doctor or nurses I know that you can not disclose anything to me but you can listen to what I have to say.

This is a hard place to be. My brother also had some delusions and hallucinations in his early 40’s. My sisters and I tried as much as possible to help but that also caused problems between our sister in law. I wish I could give you the exact steps to take to help your brother in law. Unfortunately, with mental illness the suffer has to agree to the help and accept the assistance of others for things to work out for the best. But taking any step to help him is a step in the right direction. Your brother in law is lucky to have family members like you to care about him.

Welcome to the forum @iheartmytho

I don’t know how it works in the states. I know when my son was first involuntarily admitted it was for 72 hrs. Then it was extended for 3 weeks by the hospital staff. Getting a better understanding of how the privacy laws work may help you to navigate this.


If he is not paranoid with respect to you or your husband then maybe you can get him to sign a release if you haven’t tried.

Maybe some of these links may help:
http://www.nami.org/ - National Alliance on Mental Illness.
http://www.schizophrenia.ca/ - Schizophrenia Society of Canada

Can also find some very useful information here:

Early Psychosis Treatment center information in these two links


Psychiatric Treatment Centers affiliated with Medical Schools in the USA

I kept going on this topic, but created a new thread…

I do not know how things are in America, but here in Finland when my father was in psychosis 10 years ago, I took him to a doctor and this doctor sent him to the local psych ward and he was not released until he was stable and in control, When I went to see him in the ward he thought that I came to get him back and started often arguing with me, when I told that he had to stay there. This was a part of one legal process in which he was involved. Gladly he still is alive at the elderly care facility.

Thanks so much for the comments and suggestions!

I urged my husband to call the wife and we got some much better information compared to what goes through his mom’s “filter”. My husband is flying down to Florida tonight. Tomorrow, he will be speaking with the doctors alongside the wife. The doctors do not want my brother-in-law released, especially since he still thinks he’s OK and nothing is wrong.

Then on Wednesday, there is a court date, where the wife is going to try to get whatever legal control she can get. The poor girl has been through quite a lot with all of this.

We’re hoping that my brother-in-law will be convinced to get some long term treatment. He supposedly had been seeing a therapist - but he had been lying to the therapist about some of his behaviors and the therapist believed some of the erratic behavior was due to drugs , my brother-in-law was taking. It turns out his mom was letting him do coke and such, under her watch.

That was a great move on your husbands part! The more support she can get from you the better. The stronger she is, the better equipped she`ll be to handle this. NAMI would ne a great support group if they have one in her area.
My son was also on drugs-just made things worse. Hopefully the doctor is aware of his drug use. Wishing all of you luck…

oh my, this is bad news, but good news at the same time. sounds like you’re all at least going to be ontop of it, get all the facts, make the best decision you can with what you know today, that’s all anyone can do