Are you in the midst of divorcing someone with mental illness? Living with a spouse who deals with a mental health disorder can test even the strongest of marriages. You likely want to see your partner get the help they need while also keeping healthy boundaries for yourself during the process of splitting up. It can help to understand mental illness when separating from someone who deals with it. We explore tips for handling going through a divorce from a spouse who has a mental illness to make things easier for both people.

What Types of Mental Illness Can a Person Have?

Many kinds of mental health disorders can affect a person’s life. It’s important that the individual receives an accurate diagnosis from a physician or qualified therapist in order to know what’s going on. Common types of mental illnesses include the following categories:

  • Mood Disorders: These affect a person’s mood, making it difficult or impossible to control. They include depression and bipolar disorder
  • Thought Disorders: These affect the way a person thinks and includes schizophrenia. 
  • Anxiety Disorders: These cause people to experience a great deal of anxiety. They include panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobias. 
  • Trauma-based Disorders: These happen as a result of experiencing trauma, and the most common one is post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

Many people experience dual diagnosis, which is the presence of both a mental health disorder and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Often, divorcing someone with a mental illness comes about partly because the partner also struggles with a substance use disorder they are not addressing. 

How Does Mental Illness Impact a Marriage?

Mental illness can take an enormous toll on a marriage. In fact, it can sometimes lead one partner to give up and file for divorce. Mental illness can cause a person to withdraw from their spouse, making it difficult to have an emotional connection. Freezing a partner out can cut off communication and cause a real rift in the marriage. Either person may engage in the blame game. The partner with the mental illness may blame the other person for causing or contributing to it. At the same time, a spouse may blame their partner for developing a disease that is out of their control.

The levels of stress that develop in a marriage impacted by mental illness can cause people to give up on staying together. They look back on a happy beginning to their marriage and don’t understand how things went so wrong. In some cases, even if the person gets treatment, the marriage is not salvageable. 

How To Handle Divorcing Someone With Mental Illness 

If a person has reached the point of divorcing someone with a mental illness, there are some tips to keep in mind. If the spouse has episodes in which they are somewhat mentally incapacitated, wait for it to end before telling them you want a divorce. This includes conditions such as schizophrenia. 

When filing for divorce, a reason (i.e. “grounds”) for doing so must be stated. Many people choose a no-fault divorce, which requires no proof of a justifiable reason for divorce. They can opt for “irreconcilable differences”, which usually helps a divorce to move along fairly quickly. If the person chooses a fault divorce, which can include the spouse having an incurable mental illness, proof must be presented that supports that charge. A consultation with an attorney will determine if a fault divorce is the right option. In some cases, if a person’s mental health disorder proves serious enough to contribute to the breakdown of a marriage, it can influence the share of assets from the marriage the spouse is entitled to receive. 

Keep the divorce process as friendly as possible. Tell the spouse that while you respect they have a serious medical condition, it’s impossible to continue the marriage. Speak about the partner in neutral or positive tones when possible when communicating with any children of the person with the illness. 

Common Mental Illness Treatment Options

Mental health treatment can happen on several different levels. Some people require going to a residential program and living there while they receive care. For others, outpatient programs work best. An assessment will show which type of treatment a person requires. Outpatient options include:

Each level of care provides a variety of types of therapy modalities that help improve a person’s mental health. Some types specifically target one kind of mental health disorder while others prove helpful for many different kinds. A common approach for helping people manage their mental health is dialectical behavior therapy. Other options include family therapy, group therapy, and ACT therapy. Psychiatry can also make a major difference and includes prescribing and monitoring any necessary medications. 

Find Effective Treatment For Mental Illness in Atlanta, GA

New View Wellness in Atlanta understands how mental illness can impact a person’s marriage and drive couples apart. We offer several levels of outpatient care to help a person address their mental health disorder and minimize its symptoms. We treat a variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more. A combination of talk therapy and medications provided by industry experts can make a world of difference in a person’s life. 
For more information about treatment for mental illness, please contact us now. We can answer any concerns you have about divorcing someone with mental illness and options for getting the care they need.