By Amy Silberstein, Divorce and Family Law Attorney, Partner
As a divorce and family law attorney, I know that clients come to me during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Many of my clients live with challenging mental health conditions—and they parent exceptionally while doing so.
Unfortunately, these same clients are often worried that their mental health could negatively impact their divorce. Many have asked me: will my spouse use my mental health condition against me in divorce? The answer: they will probably try.
While we can’t offer mental health advice as attorneys, we will help ensure you’re doing everything possible to prove to the court that your mental health does not negatively impact your parenting abilities.
How does mental health impact divorce?
If you have or have had a mental health condition, it’s likely that your former spouse will identify this as a reason that you are unfit to parent. This is always an upsetting argument, because people with mental illness can be and are wonderful, capable parents.
The best thing you can do to prevent your spouse from attempting to use mental health against you is to take care of yourself. This often includes taking prescription medication, attending therapy and seeking any other necessary medical care.
Will taking medication for a mental health condition impact me in divorce?
I’ve had clients who are worried that even taking a medication for their mental health could have negative consequences during divorce proceedings. Your former spouse may argue that taking medication is bad for you and impedes your parenting abilities. But, if you are taking your prescription consistently and doing well, the court views medication positively.
Can therapy be used against me in divorce?
Attending therapy also will not harm you during the litigation process! Judges usually understand therapy as a critical element of taking care of yourself and it should not be used against you.
Many clients share with me that attending therapy has had a significantly positive impact on them during divorce and allowed them to approach the process with more peace. It’s helpful to have a neutral third party to talk with, besides your attorney, and outside of your friends and family.
A therapist can help you individually move on and begin your healing journey, and eventually be able to coparent comfortably with your former spouse. Whether you initiated the dissolution of your marriage, your spouse did or it was mutual, therapy can support you in coming to terms with a challenging situation.
Who decides if my mental health is a factor in parenting time?
These decisions fall under the “best interest” standard for parenting time and decision making. The court will look at what’s in the best interest of the child. If a parent is not mentally healthy or isn’t getting the help they need, it may not be in the best interest of the child to have extended time with this parent.
In contrast, if you are taking care of yourself, seeing medical professionals, and maintaining a good mental space or taking steps towards doing so, the court will recognize that you are fit to parent—even if your spouse tries to argue otherwise.
Contact Our Divorce and Family Law Firm
If you’re looking for a divorce attorney who understands the nuances of mental health conditions, I encourage you to contact us. We’ll ensure you understand every step of the process and can walk you through any of your concerns.
Give us a call at (847) 868-9584 or request a free consultation. We’ll happily meet with you at our North Shore locations in Evanston or Lake Forest, downtown in the Loop, or at our DuPage County office in Oak Brook.