For someone contemplating a San Jose divorce, having a mentally ill spouse makes a difficult situation even more complicated. There are many different forms of mental illness, some of which are more manageable than others, but there’s no denying that a spouse who refuses to seek treatment or to take necessary medications on a regular basis can be very difficult to live with. The atmosphere of fear and anxiety that surrounds an untreated mental illness leads many people to seek divorce.
Often, the healthy spouse seeking a divorce feels guilty for being unable to handle the needs of the mentally ill spouse. Guilt is especially damaging for women. Culturally, women are socialized to be the caretakers of others and thus feel more responsible for the welfare of their spouse. But, it’s important to realize when you alone can’t provide the care a person with a serious mental illness needs. Sometimes, even though it’s very difficult, letting go is the best solution.
If your spouse has a mental illness and you are contemplating a divorce, reading self-help books on codependency might make it easier for you to better understand your situation. Seeking a therapist for yourself might be a good idea as well. It’s fine to vent to friends and family, but the perspective of a trained professional often gives you a more realistic understanding of the situation.
From a legal standpoint, having a mental illness does not automatically make a person incapable of caring for his or her children. If you have children with your spouse, keep detailed records of behaviors that might indicate your spouse won’t be able to handle caring for the children on his/her own. Get input from coaches, teachers, daycare providers, and other people in your child’s life if needed. If there is enough evidence that your spouse’s mental illness prevents him/her from making responsible parenting decisions, the court will either limit visits or order supervised visitations.
Determining how much evidence is enough evidence can be very subjective, and you should be careful to not allow the mental illness of your spouse make you go overboard. Excessive tactics, and revealing too many private details can very easily backfire and leave the Court wondering about you. This is excatly why you should secure the services of a good divorce lawyer.
If you fear that your partner might become violent when you file for divorce, you must take steps to protect your personal safety. The opposite might also be the case, so you should be on the lookout for evidence of suicidal tendencies and/or suicidal activities. Keep careful records of your spouse’s erratic behavior and ask your San Jose divorce lawyer for assistance getting a restraining order if necessary. Contact local domestic violence organizations if you need help finding a safe place to stay.