Divorce is an extremely emotional process that can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Whether your partner's mental illness has gone too far or you are experiencing your own mental health struggles, there are some important things to keep in mind when going through a divorce.
Mental Illness as Grounds for Divorce
In general, California divorce courts do not require spouses to provide evidence or grounds for divorce. This is called a "no-fault divorce" because the court does not require a reason for the separation – instead, the divorce can occur based on irreconcilable differences.
However, there are some situations where a partner's mental illness might affect the outcome of the divorce settlement. Judges evaluate divorce cases carefully to determine matters like child custody and alimony.
If a parent is a threat to themselves and others, the judge may not grant them physical custody of the children. It is also crucial that the parent be able to provide and maintain a household. Ultimately, mental illness is not grounds for divorce.
Impact on Mental Health
Divorce can be emotionally devastating for people without mental health struggles. Like any life-altering event, separation and divorce disrupt daily life and may make you feel bereft. Now, the supportive environment you depended on is torn apart with nothing concrete to replace it.
So, how does divorce affect mental health? It depends.
Everyone handles stress differently, and mental illnesses manifest in different ways. Different people have different triggers and perceptions that guide their thought processes and change how they interpret significant life changes.
For example, someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may experience more frequent or severe anxiety attacks and insomnia or trouble focusing. On the other hand, someone with clinical depression may feel more hopeless than ever and find daily tasks harder to accomplish.
These are very basic examples of only two mental illnesses. Millions of people have a mental illness that manifests in entirely different ways. Whether it's lashing out or withdrawing completely, stress from divorce can take its toll.
If you are struggling with mental illness, you must speak with a mental health specialist. They can provide coping mechanisms and offer medical advice. If you cannot reach a professional, find someone you trust and tell them how you're feeling. A friend doesn't replace a therapist, but a listening ear can do wonders.
While it's important to manage symptoms as they arise, it's better to stop the problem before it starts. One way to reduce stress during divorce is by taking preventative measures before filing.
Strategy #1: Consult an Attorney
One of the most stressful parts of the divorce process is the paperwork and documentation necessary to file. Between the legal jargon and the sheer volume of information needed, divorce papers can be frustrating, to say the least. An attorney can help you prepare the right documents and answer your questions to file with confidence.
Strategy #2: It's Not Your Fault
Divorce is life-altering, and as a result, it is easy to fall into the "what ifs" and cycles of self-blame. Some divorce cases directly result from a spouse's actions, but most people simply cannot continue to stay in the marriage.
Because the reason for your divorce is likely outside of your direct control, avoid self-blame. Not only is it unproductive to think those thoughts, but it's also destructive. Once a person settles into the idea that it was their fault, it isn't easy to dig themselves out again. Don't let yourself fall into the cycle of self-blame.
Strategy #3: Find Yourself Again
Many couples match their interests and goals with their spouse and lose themselves in the process. Whether you gave up a hobby or stopped meeting with friends, it's understandable that you may feel adrift.
Take this time to get to know yourself. Join a group, start a new hobby, or find activities you feel comfortable doing alone. Divorce doesn't have to be the end of you. This is a time for rediscovery and understanding yourself as an individual outside of a relationship.
If you are experiencing severe mental illness due to a life change like divorce, contact a mental health professional immediately. Below are some mental health resources available in California:
- City of Pasadena Public Health Department Social and Mental Health Services Division
- Sync Counseling Center
If you are in an abusive situation, contact a family shelter in your area. If you have thoughts about self-harm, harming others, or are having severe symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Discover a Bright Future
Divorce can negatively affect your mental health, and the best way to eliminate some of the legal stress is by consulting our attorney. Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, has several decades of experience handling tough divorce cases. Our compassionate legal team works diligently to protect your interests during divorce, and we provide support every step of the way.
Schedule a consultation with Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, for more information.