Tips for Divorcing a Spouse with Serious Mental Health Issues
A divorce can be complicated and stressful. If either spouse has mental health issues (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.), that can add a layer of complexity and complication. Here are a few tips for divorcing a spouse with mental health issues.
Stay Informed About Your Spouse’s Mental Health
When divorcing someone with mental health issues, staying as informed as possible about their condition is essential. This will help you better understand their behavior and how it impacts the divorce process and ensure they get the help they need. Talk to your spouse’s doctor or therapist if necessary–you may need to sign a release form to do so–so you have all the facts you need.
Your spouse’s health can impact child custody determinations if you have children. Specifically, the court prioritizes the child's best interest, which refers to the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
While a parent with mental health concerns can be awarded custody, the court will consider how their condition affects their parenting ability and their child’s welfare. Thus, you should inform your attorney if you have concerns or relevant information about how their health can impact your child’s safety or well-being.
Prepare Yourself Mentally & Emotionally
It’s common for individuals going through a divorce to experience a wide range of emotions—from grief to anger to denial and finally acceptance. If your spouse has mental health issues, you should be mindful of how the divorce might affect them even more deeply during emotionally charged situations such as court hearings or mediation sessions.
It’s also important to keep cool when these moments arise and avoid arguments with them; instead, take a break from the situation if needed and agree on ground rules before resuming negotiations.
Take Time for Self-Care
As we’ve mentioned, the divorce process can be extremely taxing on both parties involved; as such, make sure you take time for yourself throughout the divorce proceedings to reduce stress levels and maintain healthy habits such as exercise and good nutrition. Additionally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel like you could benefit from counseling or therapy during this time.
Divorcing a Mentally Ill Spouse in California
In California, a spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of legal incapacity or "incurable insanity." The spouse seeking a divorce should deliver the petition for divorce to the mentally ill spouse's guardian or conservator. Since California is a no-fault divorce state, you cannot file on fault-based grounds.
If found legally incapacitated, your spouse’s signature might not be necessary for the papers to bind legally. Therefore, you must work closely with an attorney who understands these nuances.
Consider Mediation or Other Alternatives
It may benefit both parties if they opt for mediation or another alternative dispute resolution process instead of traditional litigation. Mediation allows both sides to discuss their concerns openly and work towards compromise in a non-adversarial setting which may provide better outcomes than traditional courtroom battles do in such cases.
Seek Professional Support
It is normal—and healthy—to feel overwhelmed when navigating such an emotional situation as a divorce with mental health issues. Therefore, you must seek professional support from friends and family and counseling, if necessary, throughout this process. This will ensure that you have people in your corner who can provide emotional support and practical advice about how best to proceed during this difficult time.
Contact Our Firm
Divorcing someone with mental health issues can add more complexity to an already difficult process. However, by staying informed about your spouse’s condition, being prepared for emotional outbursts, and taking care of yourself throughout the process, you can navigate this situation with greater ease and find peace despite its challenges.
Suppose you have questions about any aspect of divorcing someone with mental health issues, from legal considerations to emotional support. In that case, the attorneys at Fenchel Family Law PC are here and prepared to help you. We are committed to helping clients navigate their divorce as smoothly as possible, including in cases where either party has mental health issues.
Learn more about our services by calling (415) 650-1112 or reaching out online.