blogLaw Blog

When Mental Illness Leads To Divorce

Posted on January 8, 2020

Feelings of failure, guilt, and loneliness can arise in adulthood due to childhood trauma, loss, work, life, and relationship pressures. When untreated, these negative feelings can lead to mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety, which can impact daily life.

At Epstein Law, we understand that mental wellness plays a large role in marriage and that the stability of one’s union can become deeply affected when a couple or individual is not happy or fulfilled.

Therefore, we feel that divorce due to poor mental health is a topic that deserves discussing:

Mental Health & Marriage

When someone is suffering from a mental illness, your relationship with them may change. Coping with mental health in a marriage can be challenging, stressful, hurtful, and confusing. For example, your partner may require more support and attention, or they may withdraw and close themselves off to you.

If your partner no longer seems like themselves, it can also be hard to know what to do or how to help. You may feel like your failing as their partner, feel lost, and become deeply overwhelmed. This is especially common if a spouse is unwilling to seek help, accept their illness and work to improve their wellbeing.

All couples go through difficult times, but if your partner is unable or unwilling to look for coping tools or has become a danger to you or others, divorce may become the healthiest option for you both to consider and for your children.

Mental Illness & Child Custody

Only under extreme circumstances will a parent lose parental rights due to mental illness. A parent’s rights will only be terminated due to mental illness if the health of the child or children’s best interests require that the child be removed from their custody.

While laws and regulations vary by country, state and province, some conditions for loss of custody due to mental illness may include:

  • The mental illness prevents the parent from being present for their child.
  • The mental illness prevents the parent from being able to provide for the child’s needs.
  • The child has been removed from the parent’s care due to mental health concerns in the past and legal expectations have not been met.

Those who are able to proactively treat and manage mental illnesses will likely be treated no differently during the divorce process. Having a mental health concern does not automatically jeopardize custody.

Protecting Mental Health During Divorce

Typically the divorce process can be emotionally draining, jeopardizing one’s mental health and wellbeing, no matter if you suffer from mental illness or not.

It is therefore important to reach out to loved ones for support, be transparent about mental struggles and seek professional help when required.

Getting enough rest, exercising, keeping a healthy diet, and practicing mindfulness can all become effective coping tools for those under immense divorce stress.

For more things you can do to remain healthy during divorce, visit CMHA.

Children’s Mental Health During Divorce

For children whose parents are going through a divorce, wellbeing and positive mental health should be a priority. In order to support children as they face turbulence or change, talk therapy may be helpful.

Should your child begin to present mental health or behavioral concerns, it is suggested that you talk to their doctor about ways to help them manage.

Taking The Next Step

If you or your partner is suffering from mental illness and you have chosen to consider divorce to focus on your health or to remove yourself from a dangerous or toxic situation, we’re here to help.

It’s okay to not be okay. Should you require professional mental health support, contact CMHA and visit their website for more resources.


Return to Blog