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When mental health disorders affect a divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Family Law

Whether or not mental health issues are a reason for divorce, they can make the process much more stressful. They can be triggered or worsened by stress as well. People in Virginia who are getting a divorce may need additional strategies to help them cope with divorcing a spouse who has mental health disorders, or they may themselves have those disorders.

Additional challenges

One of the challenges that mental health disorders create is that they can exacerbate the negative emotions that already go with the divorce, such as depression or fear of abandonment. The spouse who is suffering from those disorders may make false accusations or take other actions that lead to a more difficult divorce. If children are involved, the repercussions could be even more serious since custody could be affected. Even if this does not occur, a high-conflict divorce can be hard for children.

What to do

People who have mental health problems may want to address the end of the marriage and the added pressure with their therapist or psychiatrist. People who are divorcing a spouse who has mental health problems should document any related incidents. A therapist can also help the person better understand how to proceed when dealing with a spouse who has one or more mental health disorders.

Individuals should keep in mind as well that if a spouse who is mentally ill files protective orders against them, they must comply with those orders even if they are based on falsehoods. It can be tempting to try to minimize signs of mental illness in a spouse when considering divorce, but doing so could leave a person vulnerable to more problems once the divorce is underway. Being prepared in case there are additional issues related to mental health can also help protect children.