It’s probably not surprising that mental health issues can affect your divorce. In fact, a mental health issue could be the core reason for your separation. About 1 out of every 5 adults suffers from a mental health issue on any given year. It’s quite common for it to be a central issue of divorces around the country. However, the prevalence of mental health in divorce doesn’t mean that it makes the divorce proceedings any easier. There’s a lot to take into consideration if you or your spouse is suffering from a mental health issue. In this article, we focus on how mental health issues can affect your divorce. From custody hearings to alimony, we examine how to handle a divorce when mental health issues are involved.
California Divorce Laws and Mental Health
You may be wondering if you need to prove that there’s a mental health issue in order to obtain a divorce. That will depend on if you’d like to request a no-fault or a fault-based divorce. California is a no-fault divorce state. That means that you don’t have to prove a cause of divorce. Couples that are filing for a no-fault divorce will normally plead irreconcilable differences. However, if your spouse is suffering from a major mental health issue, you should consider a fault-based divorce. By proving the mental health issue was the cause of the divorce, you may be granted more in a divorce settlement. It’s important to speak with your divorce attorney about requesting a no-fault or a fault-based divorce. Stating the grounds of the divorce at the beginning will determine how the divorce will move forward.
Evaluating the Mental Health Issue
Of course, mental health issues can be severe or minor. If you or your spouse experienced a brief period of depression or generalized anxiety, it may not have any effect on your divorce. However, major depressive episodes, bipolar disorder, addiction, or insanity are a different story. These mental health issues can affect your divorce. In order to know more a specific mental health issue, you and your divorce lawyer may want to consult with a mental health professional.
Mental Health Issues Can Affect Your Divorce Proceedings
Let’s say you decide to follow through with fault-based divorce. You’ve stated that your spouse has a major mental health issue that caused the marriage to fail. This will be a key factor moving forward. Major mental health issues can affect everything from child custody to division of assets. Even if you filed for a no-fault divorce, mental health issues can affect your divorce proceedings in some way.
Financial Support and Alimony
The separation of assets and alimony payments will depend on a lot of different factors. If a mental health issue prevents one spouse from earning a living or holding a job, a judge might award that spouse with a larger amount of alimony. This is especially true of the mental health issue is being handled by a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. However, if one spouse is suffering from a mental health issue, but has refused to get help, a judge might award the more stable spouse more marital assets. It will all depend on what the mental health issue is, how severe it is, and if it’s being treated properly.
Child Custody and Child Support
The mental health of both parents will be evaluated at the time of a divorce that involves children. Even if there are no mental health issues reported, a judge will want to know how stable both parents are before granting custody. Any severe mental health issue can significantly affect the court’s judgment on a child custody case. It’s important to also note that a mental health issue will not free anyone from their parental responsibilities. Both spouses have a legal obligation to financially and emotionally care for their children. Overall, a judge will want to create a scenario that’s in the child’s best interest. In addition to both parents’ mental health status, a judge will want to know about the following factors:
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The parents’ ability to provide essentials like food, shelter, education, and medical care
- Any history of abuse
- Each parents’ willingness to care and provide for the child
- The child’s and each parents relationship to extended family, friends, or support system
For More Information on How Mental Health Issues Can Affect Your Divorce
If you or your spouse suffers from a mental health issue, it’s important to seek help. Not only from a mental health professional, but also from an experienced divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer can help you determine if your divorce should be a no-fault or fault-based divorce. A lawyer can also help you feel more secure moving forward. Contact a trusted divorce lawyer today to learn more about your options.