Divorcing Someone With A Mental Illness? What You Need To Know

Every year, more than 40 million Americans deal with some form of mental illness. If this figure is more than a statistic, but a real-life experience for you, you know firsthand just how serious mental health concerns are. If you're dealing with a spouse who suffers and you're seeking a divorce, your level of complication may seem to only increase.

Talk with Family

Speak with the family of your ex when you determine divorce is best. Depending on the type of mental illness the individual suffers from, you may be required by law to have a guardian step in on their behalf. This is especially common for more severe concerns.

If there is a family member that does not have any legal connection to you, such as their parent or sibling, that is willing to assume the role, the court will generally accept this. If not and a guardian is required, the court will independently appoint one. However, depending on your relationship, you may be able to persuade someone to take on this role.

Be Patient

A divorce typically does not move forward at a high speed, but when there are concerns of mental health problems, the process can seem even slower. When it comes to divorce, the court is more concerned with each party having their share of fair justice than they are wrapping things up quickly.

If your spouse has a medically diagnosed illness and suffers a setback during the divorce proceedings, the judge has the authority to halt and postpone the proceedings until your spouse is more up to it. Rely on the strong care and love you once felt for your partner to help you exercise patience.

Aim for a Mutual Agreement

If you can, try to settle your divorce with a mutual agreement, rather than taking things to court. As previously mentioned, this may only slow down the proceedings, especially if your ex's mental health concerns are induced with stress. Sitting down with your ex in a mediation process is far less formal and intimidating.

Additionally, if your ex has concerns, or may feel like you're trying to hurt them, sitting down in this more intimate environment gives you an opportunity to let them know where you're coming from and calm their concerns. In a courtroom where it appears that a judge is making all the decisions, it's easy for things to be misinterpreted.

Divorcing someone with a mental illness does present challenges, but nothing that can't be worked through. Consider partnering with an attorney, such as Margit M. Hicks, PA Attorney at Law, to ensure you're handling the matter with the utmost respect and within the lines of the law.