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How mental illness can affect a divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Divorce

Every day, couples in California begin to move through the divorce process. While divorce is stressful for most divorcees, it can be worse for those with mental health disorders. How they can affect the divorce process in California really depends on the case in question.

Mental illness in a marriage

There are many ways that mental illness can manifest in a marriage. For certain couples, the fact that their spouse suffered from mental illness may not have been obvious at all during the courting phase. Certain kinds of mental illness, such as borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, may be easier to hide from loved ones if they are not around them at all hours of the week.

In other cases, serious mental illness can suddenly manifest or worsen over time. This is true of diseases such as schizophrenia and dementia. Someone who was once coherent and sane may no longer be one day. Such a disease could certainly destroy what would have otherwise been a functional marriage as well.

Mental illness and divorce proceedings

Mental illness can have a big impact on how a divorce is decided. In specific, it can affect things like:

  • alimony
  • asset division
  • child support
  • child custody
  • legal mental competence
  • mandated psychological evaluations

In many cases, the court may end up not treating the divorce as it would have if both spouses were mentally competent. The mentally ill spouse may end up receiving alimony, for example, because they may be unable to work. Issues with child custody can also be affected. The court may be more suspicious of a parent who has mental health issues in regards to awarding child custody.

Overall, couples where one or both has a mental health condition may encounter issues that other divorcing couples do not. It can add complexity and hardship to the entire process for both parties.