The mental health of anyone going through a divorce can easily raise concern but what if a spouse actually suffers from a mental illness? Mental health awareness in this country has a long way to go, as it is. In the midst of a divorce, it is important to know how mental health may or may not play a role in the proceedings.
Divorce may involve emotional warfare but there will be no room for that in family court. It is all too common for a partner to “self-diagnose” someone who is just fine. The accuser may even be the one suffering from a mental illness, such as narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.
If mental health is to play a role at all, there will need to be a diagnosis. Plenty of people suffer from mental illnesses that may contribute to divorce-related issues but they may not be diagnosed. Others may be diagnosed but fail to comply with their doctor’s recommendations. Then, there are still others who have been misdiagnosed all together.
If children are involved, the judge can order a custody evaluation if there is a question regarding which parent can provide the safest and healthiest environment. Either way, family court will not take accusations of mental illness lightly. When it comes to children, divorce proceedings already take enough of a toll on their mental health. It can adversely affect their behavior and lead to depression and anxiety.
Unnecessary labeling can also stigmatize perfectly fit parents and affect their relationship with their kids. A parent with a legitimate mental illness might fear that it will somehow count against them in court. As far as a judge is concerned, all that matters is a person’s ability to parent.
If the matter of mental health is to be mentioned at all, it should really be under the following circumstances:
- There is a high risk of violence towards you or your children.
- The children are at a moderate to high risk of neglect or abuse.
- Your partner is likely to seek spousal support due to their diagnosis.
Making light of mental illness is already the cause of enough stigma in this country. You can rest assured that it will be taken seriously in family court. That is why it is best discussed with an attorney. For advice on the matter, contact this office.
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