Divorcing a Spouse With Mental Illness

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Feb 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mental illness is a commonly cited reason for divorce. Issues can range from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to more complicated illnesses, including schizophrenia. Confronting mental illness in a marriage may reveal that your spouse needs additional mental health care or that you yourself are ill-equipped to handle the complex issues and needs of your partner. When do you know that it is time to divorce? How can you support your spouse while also moving on?

Goodbye

Unfortunately, there is a high statistical rate of divorce when one or both spouses suffer from a mental illness. According to a 2011 study, there are 18 sample mental illnesses that make divorce more likely. The likelihood of divorce increased between 20-percent and 80-percent depending on the illness. The most commonly cited illnesses associated with divorce are addiction and PTSD. Our divorce lawyers in Birmingham understand that many clients are often facing severe personal and health issues in their families. If you are considering divorce due to a mental health, it is important to know your rights and how to best protect your family.

If your spouse has mental illness, you have likely gone through numerous phases in your marriage in an attempt to deal with these issues. You may have tried seeking professional help, letting issues “slide” just to get through the day, or even becoming an enabler if your spouse has an addiction. As you know, the challenges of being married to a person with mental illness can take over your marriage and lead you down the path towards divorce.

There are many reasons why mental illness can impact the quality of a marriage. Some sufferers of mental illness have problems with intimacy. They may also engage in certain behaviors that are damaging to a marriage—including drugs, alcohol, gambling or other addictions. Individuals who suffer certain personality disorders, including bipolar disorder, may find it difficult or impossible to connect with their partners and create certain marital stress with manic episodes.

The way that a mental health issue impacts your marriage may change overtime, as well. In the beginning it may simply be a source of stress; however over the course of a marriage, mental illness can become a significant drain on financial resources and the stability of your family. Making the decision to divorce will be a difficult one and should be considered with the help of experienced professionals, including medical and legal resources.

When considering divorce from a spouse with mental illness, you should, of course, protect yourself, your children, and your rights first. You should also be wary of how filing for divorce or the divorce process can make conditions worse or even set off a volatile spouse. For a spouse with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issue, a divorce or the possibility of ending a marriage could cause symptoms to worse during divorce. If you are suffering from a mental illness, you may also see divorce as one solution to relieve the pressure of your illness. Again, in this situation, it is important to consult with experienced medical and legal professionals to help you best understand your options and protect your rights.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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