Going through a divorce is a complex and emotionally draining process for everyone involved. When a person in the relationship has a psychiatric condition, this experience can become more difficult. Issues ranging from your former partner becoming symptomatic and unreasonable during negotiations to valid concerns about their parenting abilities can come to the forefront. Here are some matters to consider when facing a divorce with mental health issues:
Mental Incapacity as a Ground for Divorce
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the law does not allow the assignment of blame for the marriage ending. However, the mental incapacitation of a spouse can be a ground for divorce under Florida law. However, the law requires that the spouse seeking to end the marriage on this basis wait three years from the date when their partner was declared incapacitated to file for divorce. Additionally, the nearest blood relative or a guardian will be served and allowed to participate in court regarding the issues in the case. Further, if a divorce is granted on the basis of incapacitation, the filing spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to support the incapacitated spouse’s needs.
Your Former Partner’s Condition
A person who has a psychological or psychiatric diagnosis may have measures in place which allow them to function and control their symptoms. However, stressful circumstances such as divorce can lead to their becoming symptomatic. In some cases, increased conflict between the parties could lead to your former partner becoming irrational and unreasonable about issues which must be decided. The unfortunate reality is that circumstances such as this could result in the parties being unable to effectively communicate about the terms of their divorce. In such a situation, involving the court may be the only way to end the case.
Divorce with Children
When a parent has a mental illness, the court is likely to take their condition, past behaviors, and current functioning, into consideration. The court’s primary focus will be on ensuring that children of the marriage are safe and any parenting plans are in their best interest. This determination is made by looking at both parents and considering evidence of the child's safety and well-being. One specific factor the court can consider is the mental health of the parents. If the parent in question has demonstrated stability and safe behavior in the presence of their child, the court may be inclined to allow them the same time-sharing and decision-making powers as the other parent. However, if the parent has a proven history of unsafe acts due to their symptoms, they may require supervised visitation and other limitations regarding their access to and authority to make decisions for their children.
Mental health issues and divorce can be concerning during a divorce case. At the Draper Law Office, we have attorneys who are experienced in helping families through this process and can provide the guidance and support you need. Contact us online or at (866) 767-4711 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our three locations: St. Cloud, Kissimmee, and Orlando.