How Mental Illness Affects the Divorce Process

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 into account.

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 consultation.

Photo Credit: Flickr / ryan melaugh

Categories: Child Custody, Divorce