Divorce is difficult even under the best of circumstances, when both people want to end the marriage and agree on all the financial, legal family circumstances. The reality is, most marriages do not end under the best possible circumstances, even when the couple wants to end their marriage amicably and remain friendly after the divorce. This week’s headlines announcing the divorce of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are a stark reminder of what can happen if you are divorcing someone with a mental illness. West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016 and has publicly stated that he prefers not to take his medications, which has resulted in multiple episodes of public behaviors that have caused pain and stress for Kardashian.
If you are married to someone with a mental illness and are seeking a divorce, you have additional issues to consider protecting yourself, your family and your spouse.
5 Considerations When Divorcing Someone with Mental Illness
Divorce can be a difficult process for everyone. However, when divorcing someone with a mental illness, things often take an even more difficult route. A divorce that was not handled correctly before the papers were signed, may lead to dangerous circumstances, which is why you may want to take the following considerations in mind:
1. Be Compassionate
No one chooses to be mentally ill. Someone who has a serious pathology may feel frustrated or trapped by the circumstances, making them spiral down the mental illness lane even more.
Therefore, you should not dismiss your soon-to-be ex-husband or ex-wife as “crazy.” Instead, try to be as compassionate as possible when dealing with the problem. You could have been the one showing a chronic health problem, and you wouldn’t want them to put all their anger on you.
2. Keep Spousal Support in Mind
Depending on the case, a spouse with a mental health illness may not be able to hold a job due to their problems. In this case, you may want to keep in mind the possibility that you may have to pay alimony to support your spouse. If the divorce has been caused by a mental illness that was left untreated, then a judge may even increase your support award or alimony.
3. Give Them Time
Even if you are already convinced that you want a divorce, you might not want to set the idea in motion the moment it crossed your mind. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West decided to get a divorce after seven years of marriage, but even so, they remained married as they lived separate lives.
Because Kanye reportedly pleaded for compassion because of his bipolar disorder, she gave him enough time to make peace with the idea of a divorce. Had she tried to take this step sooner, it can’t be said what the after-effects would have been.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Perhaps one of the most important considerations of divorcing someone with a mental illness is not to walk on your toes around them – but to be nicer to yourself instead. Many people allow their marriage to their mentally ill spouse to run the course too long, all because they feel guilty. You must remember that a spouse is not a substitute for a mental health worker or a caretaker.
5. Don’t Deny Child Custody
If you are divorcing someone with mental illness, you may want to avoid unreasonable denials for shared custody – particularly if they are able to take care of the children. If the parent is not seen fit to take care of children, then this should be approached in court. By trying to deny their parenting rights from the very start, you could make things even more difficult for both of you.
The road to getting a divorce is always bumpy, particularly if you are dealing with someone who has mental problems. Remember to be compassionate and patient with your spouse. Otherwise, the road to obtaining a peaceful divorce could be even more difficult.
Protect What Matters Most
If you plan to divorce a spouse with a mental illness and have any questions about your rights, divorce or family law in New Jersey, contact Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Divorce Group at (732) 585-1651 to schedule an initial consultation with our New Jersey lawyers to discuss your divorce or other family law issue. Our team is here to provide you with the compassionate legal support you need.