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Tips for Divorcing a Mentally Ill Spouse

 Posted on July 12, 2022 in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneyBeing married to someone with a mental illness can be difficult. Certainly, people with mental illness can enjoy long and successful marriages if they are receiving the appropriate treatment. A combination of medication and therapy can help a person with mental illness become a good spouse, a good parent, and a good provider. However, if your spouse is not adequately addressing their mental health issues and they are affecting your relationship, a divorce may be in order.

Getting a mentally ill spouse to cooperate with divorce proceedings can be a challenge. They may resist divorce, particularly if they are dependent on you. It is important to be represented by an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the twists and turns your case may take

Helpful Advice for Ending Your Marriage to a Person With Mental Illness

When you have made the decision to divorce your mentally ill spouse, you can expect some unique challenges. You know your spouse and how their mental illness affects their behavior better than anyone, so you may already know how your spouse is likely to handle being served with divorce papers. Other tips include: 

  • Be safe - If your spouse is prone to violence in any way, whether that means hitting you, destroying your property, or throwing things around the house, your first priority must be your safety and if you have children, their safety. You may be able to get a temporary protective order that bars your spouse from returning to your marital home. However, it may be safer for you to go stay somewhere else, where your spouse cannot find you. 
  • Gather evidence - If there is any documentation of your spouse’s mental illness or evidence of bizarre or threatening behavior, save it. It may become relevant. 
  • Expect no cooperation - Your spouse is not likely to go along with the divorce proceedings in a cooperative fashion. They may fail to show up for court or mediation. It may be difficult for your lawyer to get messages returned if your spouse is not represented. 
  • React right to threats - One very common thing that people with mental illness do after being served with divorce papers is making suicidal threats. If you have any concern at all that your spouse may follow through with harming themselves, you should call 911 and ask the police to perform a welfare check. Do not allow these threats to guilt you into staying. 
  • Get help - You may be experiencing complex emotions. Counseling can help you sort through them. If your spouse’s mental illness is genetic and you have children in common, prepare to seek help for the child immediately should they show symptoms.

While it may be difficult to divorce a mentally ill spouse, doing so can set you and your children on the path to a better life

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Hensley Sendek Law knows what it takes to get a divorce and make a clean break from a mentally ill spouse, and we will be there to support you at every stage. Our experienced West Chicago divorce attorneys are skilled at navigating even the most complex divorce situations. Call us at 630-358-9029 for a free consultation



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