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Navigating mental health issues in divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Divorce

Every year in California, thousands of couples file for divorce. Although most of those cases are uncontested, ending a relationship is always stressful. If one of the spouses has been diagnosed with a mental illness, it adds to the challenge of ending a marriage.

How divorce impacts mental illness

According to the World Health Organization, they may impact as many as one in eight individuals. Stress, like the strain associated with divorce, often exacerbates conditions like depression, anxiety and personality disorders.

People with depression may feel compelled to withdraw from the process, making it difficult to meet deadlines and appointments. Anxiety disorders can also lead to avoidance as the affected person becomes overwhelmed with worry. Several mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, can cause unexpected mood swings and irrational behavior. Affected people may resort to dishonesty or emotional manipulation, adding confusion to the proceedings.

Child custody with a mentally ill parent

Mental illness can add difficulty to child custody proceedings, especially if a fear of abandonment leads a parent to act inappropriately. False accusations or harmful threats create stress for everyone involved.

The court will always put the welfare of the children first in custody proceedings. When mental illness is a factor, it is important to document erratic or dangerous behavior, allowing the court to understand more about the situation.

Keeping the process honest

When divorcing a spouse with a mental illness, transparent documentation is critical. This precaution can mitigate concerns about honesty and perception during a high-asset divorce.

In extreme cases, the spouses should only meet in public places or with a witness present. Preventing false accusations or inaccurate perceptions will streamline the legal process.

A new start

The challenge of a mental illness can make it difficult for couples to stay together. Taking precautionary steps may prevent it from disrupting divorce proceedings, allowing the spouses to separate gracefully.