If you are married to someone with mental health issues or illnesses or if you are the spouse with mental health issues or illnesses, then you likely have a lot of questions about how this will affect your divorce. In many cases, the spouse who has such conditions or a history of such concerns may attempt to keep the issues a secret and out of the divorce proceedings. However, if either spouse brings up the concern, it will be discussed and considered in the divorce proceedings. This is especially true in cases where decisions concerning custody and parental rights with children are involved.
Even so, you should not assume that a history of mental illness and mental health treatment will be the deciding factor in your divorce or custody disputes. These concerns will be addressed, but as long as the person is stable, receiving any required treatment, and not a danger to themselves, their spouse, or their children, then it is unlikely that the mental health concerns will end up causing either spouse to lose their parental rights or their right to any properties or finances that are involved.
It is important to talk to a skilled Greenville, South Carolina, attorney for more information. Whether you need to protect yourself from unfair accusations and assumptions based on your mental health history or whether you need to prove that the mental health history of your spouse is relevant, you will need legal advice. Call the Elliott Frazier Law Firm to learn more.
What Are the Possible Grounds for Divorce in Greenville, South Carolina?
Before we continue with our discussion of the impact of mental health issues in a Greenville, South Carolina, divorce, let’s look at the possible grounds for divorce that may be applicable to your case. For starters, it is possible to get a no-fault divorce in Greenville, South Carolina. You do not have to explain your reasons if both parties agree that the marriage is not working due to irreconcilable differences or for reasons that neither party wishes to address in a courtroom. This means that even if you could file for divorce based on the following possible grounds for divorce, you are not required to do so. There are many cases where the situation may involve adultery, drug use, or other issues that neither party wishes to divulge through the divorce proceedings. You are not required to divulge this information unless your spouse decides to bring it up as a grounds for divorce.
In a divorce that is based on fault, the possible grounds for divorce include adultery, one year or more of separation or desertion (no contact or support), physical cruelty, and habitual drug use or alcohol abuse. Mental health or ‘insanity’ is not among the possible grounds for divorce. However, if mental health issues contribute to the grounds for divorce, such as a case of physical cruelty due to mental illness, then the issues are likely to be relevant to the case.
How Does Mental Health Impact Child Custody Issues in a Greenville, SC, Divorce?
Whenever a married couple gets divorced in Greenville, SC, and when children are involved, the best interests of the children are the top priority of the court. There are a number of different variables that will be considered when addressing child custody and visitation concerns. These include the financial stability of each parent, the emotional stability of each parent, and the social support of each parent. Work schedules and other issues will also factor in. Among these concerns will be the mental health history of each parent. Yet, this does not mean that a parent with a history of mental health issues will be denied custody or visitation. It all depends on the situation. For instance, if the parent with mental health issues can show that he or she is stable, receiving any required treatment, and not behaving in a manner that is abusive or disruptive to their children and home life, then their mental health is not likely to prevent them from being awarded custody or visitation.
On the other hand, if one spouse is able to show that the other spouse has a history of mental health issues that contributed to an abusive or unstable environment, then this could play a key role in the decisions that are made for the children. In one example that illustrates how the courts view mental health history concerns, there was a mother with a mental illness who still was allowed to have custody of her children. Although the husband and father in the case attempted to argue that she was unfit as a parent due to her mental health history, the courts saw things differently. The mother had spent eight months inside of a mental health institution, but the courts viewed her efforts to treat her condition in a favorable light. They saw that she was striving for stability and succeeding in her efforts. They also found that she had a closer relationship and bond with the children than the husband, regardless of her mental health history, and this also played a role in the decision.
Another important point to be aware of is that the courts also look at whether or not each parent is willing and able to foster a positive relationship with the other parent. If one parent seems to be too adversarial and unlikely to foster such a health relationship with the other parent, then the adversarial parent may not get custody for this reason. It is in the best interests of the children to have a positive relationship with both parents, and whichever parent is more likely to foster such positive relationships is also more likely to get custody in the end.
Do Mental Health Issues Affect the Likelihood of Either Spouse Receiving Alimony?
Mental health issues could affect an alimony decision in some cases. For example, if one spouse does not have the financial means to support themselves because of a mental illness, then they may end up receiving alimony. It is not based so much on the mental illness itself, but on the spouse’s inability to make ends meet financially, whatever the cause. Having said that, the spouse who contributes the most to the household and who is being asked to pay alimony cannot refuse to do so because he or she has a mental illness. The same is true for paying child support. The actual income is more important than the reason for that income, though mental health may be a factor.
If you have more questions about getting divorced as someone with a mental illness or divorcing someone who has a mental illness, call the experienced Greenville, SC family law attorney at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm to learn more.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.