With millions of Americans struggling with mental health issues, it is no surprise that these problems impact the health and viability of many a marriage. If divorce is in your future and mental health issues are a factor, having an attorney experienced in dealing with such concerns is well worth considering.
Grounds for Divorce – Mental Health Issues
In California, one of the reasons you may file for divorce or the termination of a domestic partnership is on the grounds that your partner has been declared incurably insane. Proving this requires documentation of a debilitating condition from a licensed psychiatrist. Divorcing on these grounds is rare, since California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that by and large the majority of divorces are based on irreconcilable differences. This is more likely the course any divorce would take, even if serious mental health issues plague the relationship.
Mental Health Issues and Divorce
In the event you are unable to secure the necessary documentation to divorce on the grounds of insanity, or you simply choose not to go that route, you can still file based on irreconcilable differences, of course. Here, mental health problems may still factor into the terms of the divorce, in ways you may not have considered. With California’s no-fault divorce, community property is equally divided, regardless of who is “at fault” in the relationship. The fact that your partner has mental health issues, diagnosed or otherwise, will not mean that you get a bigger piece of the pie.
Mental Illness Considerations in a Divorce
Various mental illnesses may impact the way you proceed through the divorce process. If you are dealing with a partner who suffers with depression issues, you may have fears about self-harm, causing you to tread lightly through this difficult time. If your partner is unstable or violent, you may fear for your own safety. Perhaps your divorce involves a partner with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In this case, your partner may fill the coming months with lies and nasty smears to hurt you. Whatever your situation, dealing with a spouse who is plagued with a mental illness will require the careful diplomacy and finesse of an experienced attorney.
In the lead-up to your divorce, it is important that you carefully document any interactions that give rise to concerns around safety. It may be necessary to obtain a protective order in some cases. In other situations, a mentally unstable spouse may be unable to fulfill parenting obligations, impacting child custody and visitation arrangements.
An Emotional Journey
Mental illness, particularly when relevant to custody issues, can lead to some bitter interactions, which might be best left to your legal team to handle. Shifting all communications to a dispassionate attorney who is focused on achieving the best outcomes for you is infinitely wiser than attempting to negotiate with someone who is incapable of rational discussion. At Beck Law P.C., in Sonoma County, we will provide the legal barriers necessary to minimize hostile contacts with a mentally ill spouse, taking care of essential communications on your behalf. If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California, schedule a confidential consultation in our Santa Rosa Office today to discuss your matter.