What rights do I have if my mentally ill wife left the house and checked herself into a woman’s shelter for no reason?

My wife, who is mentally ill, checked herself into a battered women’s shelter. She has never been battered. She has been there for 3 days now and has left me and my 16 year old daughter. She has not contacted us and the shelter will not tell us anything. What rights do we have? She needs the right help. We love her very much and the night that she left she was incoherent. The police will not tell us anything other than to leave her alone, even though I have explained her condition. As time passes I am very concerned about her. I need to know how to get her the help that she needs.

Asked on May 28, 2012 under Family Law, Texas


Michael Gainer / Michael J. Gainer, Attorney At Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may want to consider asking an attorney in your state for advice.  Shelters are designed to protect people from any disclosure or contact.  They probably will not help without a court order.    

In Washington State, I would recommend filing an action for Guardianship of the Person (sometimes I think its called a Conservatorshhip in other states).  This asks the court to appoint someone to investigate whether she needs someone to make health care and other decisions for her.  Initially, this may be someone appointed by the court to immediately investigate, with authorization to get information from the shelter/police without notifying you of where she is.  The end result/goal will be for the court to appoint you or someone else to make decisions for her or find that she is competent to decide for herself.  The court can help, but you have to take action.  Otherwise, you are relying on the shelter and their resources to figure out what is best for her.

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