Divorce has never been easy. It involves going through tremendous amounts of pain, struggling with mental and physical health, and managing other aspects of divorce when you have no energy left. It can strike even worse the people who are already suffering from mental health issues. For such people, the process can be a little more complicated but remember that there is always the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re divorcing a spouse with mental illness, it changes the whole negotiation process and, in some cases, it may be incredibly difficult to come to reasonable negotiations. If you’re seeking a divorce due to a spouse’s severe mental health issues, you may want to file for a fault-based divorce

Can My Spouse’s Insanity Prevent Me from Obtaining a Divorce?

You or your spouse can’t avoid a divorce by pleading insanity. Nevertheless, a spouse’s severe mental health issues may entitle that spouse to additional protections under the law, particularly if that spouse is housed in a mental health facility. In many states, a judge will appoint a guardian to represent a spouse who has debilitating mental health issues or is housed in a mental health facility to ensure that the ill spouse’s legal interests are represented in a divorce.

Support Issues

A spouse’s mental health issues may reduce or increase that spouse’s share of the marital estate depending on your family’s circumstances. Specifically, mental health issues can interfere with your ability to support yourself or your family. A judge may alimony or a larger share of marital property or assets if your mental health prohibits you from working or makes it difficult to hold a job. In certain circumstances, if a spouse’s untreated mental illness is the cause of your divorce, a judge may increase the stable spouse’s alimony or support awards as a result.

Keep in mind, that your own or your spouse’s mental health issues won’t let you escape your child support obligations. Parents have a legal duty to support their children regardless of the other parent’s mental health status.

Mental Illness & Child Custody

No single factor is determinative in a custody case. In other words, mental health issues won’t necessarily make or break your case. Instead, a judge will evaluate your family’s overall circumstances to determine the custody arrangement best suited to your child’s needs.

A parent’s mental health issues are just one of many factors that a judge will consider in your case. A judge will consider many factors when determining what is in the child’s best interest. Parents with more severe mental health issues may face greater barriers to obtaining custody.

Can a Parent lose Parental Rights Due to Mental Health?

Under extreme circumstances, a mentally ill parent may lose his or her parental rights. Generally, parental right terminations are granted only as a last resort and when a child’s best interests demand it. Each state has its own rules, but generally, a court won’t terminate a mentally ill parent’s rights unless certain criteria are met. For example, Texas law allows a judge to terminate a mentally ill parent’s rights under the following circumstances:

  • The mental illness makes it impossible for the parent to meet the child’s physical or emotional needs.
  • The parent’s mental illness is permanent.
  • The child has been placed outside of the parent’s care for at least 6 months.
  • Reunifications with the parent have been unsuccessful, and the termination of parental rights serves the child’s best interests.

And in other states the below-mentioned conditions can lead to the termination of parental rights:

  • The parent has not been able to be present for their children due to mental illness.
  • The parent is not able to provide for their children’s needs due to mental illness.
  • The child has been removed from the parent’s care due to mental health concerns in the past and legal expectations have not been met.

Most individuals who have well-managed mental health issues will find that their mental health has little impact on a divorce. The entire process of divorce can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining and it could jeopardize your overall well-being, no matter if you’re mentally ill or not. Therefore, reaching out to your therapist, divorce coach or loved ones for the emotional support you might need now is very important. At the same time, keeping a healthy diet, working out whenever you can, and take a walk, and maintaining good sleeping patterns will also help.

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach for Men