When your spouse is dealing with a mental health issue, it can become a
shared struggle – and one that can sometimes lead to divorce. In fact,
a study published in 2011 on marriage, divorce and mental disorders linked 18 mental disorders to an increased divorce rate.
Divorcing a spouse with a mental illness or disorder is a complex decision.
Sometimes, it even involves helping your spouse get properly diagnosed
and treated before focusing on the logistics of legal separation. Whether
mental illness is a factor in your decision to divorce or not, it can
become an issue that complicates the process and other related proceedings,
including matters involving children.
Below are a few points showing how mental illness can affect divorce.
The effect of mental illness on the divorce process
Depending on the mental health issue involved, individuals struggling with
mental illness can complicate the divorce process. Volatile personalities
or a lack of understanding about the realities of the situation can make
it difficult to reach amicable agreements, and it can seem impossible
to reasonably deal with unreasonable situations. When this becomes the
case for you, it’s best to let the legal system do its job. You
can work with experienced attorneys who can help you navigate the process
as smoothly as possible.
Mental illness and child custody
Courts will always consider the best interests of a child when making decisions
regarding child custody, visitation, and other matters involving children.
This means courts will typically take a parent’s mental health into
account when determining whether they are capable of providing for a child.
If mental illness is severe enough to the point where it affects a parent’s
ability to provide a safe or stable environment, courts will take this
Should a guardian be considered?
If a mental illness prevents someone from representing their own best interests,
or renders them incapable of handling the divorce process, that person
may wish to be represented by a guardian. In some cases, a mentally disordered
person will be assigned a guardian by the court (called a guardian ad
litem). A divorce attorney experienced in handling cases involving mental
illness can help you decide if this is the right move for your case.
These are just a few of the many issues that may arise in a divorce case
involving mental illness. At McKinley Irvin, our Oregon divorce attorneys
have the tools and resources you need to deal with difficult and high-conflict
circumstances during divorce, including mental health issues. If you have
questions about mental illness and divorce, our attorneys at McKinley
Irvin are available to review and discuss your case during a personalized
Flickr / ryan melaugh