Filing for Divorce When Your Spouse is Mentally Ill

At Lyons & Associates, the firm’s managing partner is not just a lawyer, but also has a master’s degree in social work.  That makes Lyons & Associates particularly equipped to handle matrimonial matters that involve mental illness.

If your spouse has exhibited irrational or unhealthy mental behaviors, you may be considering ending your marriage. Here are some issues to consider before you file a complaint.

Determine the Nature of Your Spouse’s Mental Illness

Before you do anything, you need to have your spouse seek treatment and get a definitive diagnosis. If your spouse refuses to get treatment, you may have no choice but to file for divorce. However, based on the diagnosis, you may be able to manage their mental health and save your marriage. Some conditions, such as situational depression or anxiety, may be very effectively treated with medication. Others, such as borderline personality disorder, may be hard to diagnose and even harder to treat.

Don’t Feel Guilty about Leaving

Many people stay with a mentally ill spouse because they feel responsible for abandoning them if they leave. The reality is that leaving may be the best thing for their mentally ill spouse. Most likely, if they have lived with a mentally ill spouse for some period of time, they have unintentionally enabled that spouse in his or her unhealthy mental behavior. As long as they stay in the relationship, they will continue to enable their partner. Only by leaving can they force a “rock bottom” experience that may be necessary to facilitate change.

Don’t Unfairly Use Your Ex-Spouse’s Mental Illness against Them

If there are minor children in the marriage, custody and visitation should be based on what will be in the children’s best interests. If your ex’s mental condition prevents them from effectively parenting, or poses a risk of harm or injury to your child, consideration of that mental condition is important. However, if they are fully capable of parenting, even though they have a mental condition, it will be potentially more harmful to your children to try to deny visitation.

Contact the New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates

If you or someone you know as questions about mental illness and divorce, contact Lyons & Associates, contact us online or call 908-575-9777 to schedule a confidential consultation. Lyons & Associates, PC, serves the entire state of New Jersey including Somerville, Bridgewater, Somerset, Basking Ridge, Mendham and Morristown.