Navigating divorce and mental illness

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Firm News |

Watching your spouse struggle with mental illness is a different kind of pain. You vowed to be there through sickness and in health, and you want to keep your word. However, after experiencing several of your spouse’s episodes, you may find yourself physically and emotionally exhausted. Divorce is never easy, but sometimes it seems like it is your only choice.

Mental illness can change a person and how they deal with others. Divorce may be the best course of action when your spouse can no longer or is unwilling to take care of themselves or when they are a threat to you and other people.

How does a spouse’s mental illness impact divorce?

Divorcing someone you had planned to spend your whole life with is painful and heartbreaking, especially when mental illness is involved.

North Carolina courts can grant an absolute divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity. However, because California is a no-fault state, you may file for divorce without proving your spouse is at fault.

When it comes to child custody and spousal maintenance, your spouse’s mental health condition could influence the judge’s decisions. A person suffering from schizophrenia, for example, may have difficulty maintaining a job or caring for anyone. Because their symptoms require maintenance, the court may decide to grant them a bigger share of marital property or more spousal support.

Deciding to divorce a spouse with mental illness

You may feel resentful or angry toward your spouse but remember that it is not their fault. Nobody decides to be mentally ill. When you have hit your limit or exhausted all your options, a divorce can be healthier for both of you.

Naturally, many who have been in similar situations have felt overwhelming guilt over their decision. That is normal and may even cause you to rethink your choices. Consider looking back on how you came to this point.

Talking to a therapist, joining a support group or consulting a divorce lawyer may help you sort through your feelings and concerns. They may also provide insight into why this decision is better for everyone involved.