What You Need To Know About Divorcing A Mentally Ill Spouse

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2023 | family law |

The onset of a spouse’s mental health illness can wreak havoc on your marriage. It might make it difficult for you to connect and communicate with your spouse, and erratic behavior might put you and your children at risk of being harmed.

Although many mental illnesses can be treated and managed through medication and other forms of treatment, sometimes such methods are ineffective, or a spouse simply refuses to seek out the care they need.

If you find yourself in a failing marriage on account of your spouse’s mental health, then now may be the time to think about divorce.

How will your spouse’s mental health condition affect your divorce?

There are steps that you can take to minimize the impact of your spouse’s mental health condition on your divorce, but the fact remains that their illness is likely going to affect how you approach key divorce legal issues. This includes each of the following:

  • Property division: Depending on your spouse’s mental illness, their condition may render them more conflictual than you anticipate. This can make it difficult to negotiate a resolution to the division of your marital property. Have a plan for how to communicate with your spouse going into your divorce.
  • Child custody: Your spouse’s mental health might play an important role in a child custody determination, too. After all, if their illness prevents them from providing a safe and stable home environment that’s in the child’s best interests, then they might be denied custody. In some circumstances, their visitation might even be limited by the custody order. Be sure you can articulate how your spouse’s mental health impacts your child.
  • Spousal support: A mental health illness might make it difficult for your spouse to obtain and maintain employment and generally support themselves. As a result, you might be asked to pay spousal support or a larger alimony payment than you expected. Be ready to confront this argument.
  • Child support: Your spouse is going to be expected to contribute to your children’s upbringing, even if they have a mental health condition that prohibits them from working. If your spouse doesn’t have the income to make proper child support payments, then you might be able to use that fact to justify a request for a larger part of the marital estate.

What can you do to get a handle on your divorce?

If you’re considering divorce from a spouse who has an untreated mental health condition, then you’ll want to be prepared going into the process. While this means carefully crafting compelling legal arguments that support your position, it also means figuring out how to approach your divorce with compassion and care.

Your spouse didn’t choose to have a mental health condition, and there’s nothing that you alone can do to change their condition.

That said, if your spouse has been exhibiting violent tendencies, then you’ll want to minimize your contact with them and document everything that makes you feel unsafe. These notes might help you in your divorce case if you need an order protecting you from your spouse.

Are you ready to reclaim your future?

A bad marriage can leave you fearful and uncertain of the future. Fortunately, you can take back the reins of your life by thoroughly preparing your divorce case. Although that might sound daunting under the circumstances, you should try to avoid stressing over it. You can do this by educating yourself as much as possible and wrapping yourself in support.