Among the issues that impact the deterioration of a marriage, mental illness is a common circumstance. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental health conditions affect one in five adults in the United States. With these odds, both moderate and severe behavioral, mental and emotional disorders impact many marriages and can generate marital difficulties for either partner.
Mental health conditions may have an impact on a divorce case. If either party lives with a mental illness, there are several factors important to examine as they go through divorce proceedings.
Divorce and mental health considerations
While many mental illnesses manifest with only mild symptoms, some couples struggle with severe symptoms that impact the safety and wellbeing of their family. These conditions can influence divorce proceedings through:
- Fault determination
- Child custody
- Spousal support
- Asset division
- Protective orders
- Parent time and visitation
A mental disorder can impact whether one or both spouses’ ability to function, maintain employment, care for a household or participate typically in society.
Divorces involving children are often influenced by a mental health diagnosis or proven struggle with an illness. Because the courts prioritize the best interests of the children, if one or both parties are unable to provide a healthy, livable environment, or if children may be subject to undue physical or emotional harm, the courts will look at relevant evidence in the case to determine a suitable, safe family structure.
However, a diagnosis or existing condition will not disqualify a parent from his or her rights to their children, and the other parent must present a just case for potential restriction of parental responsibility.