According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19.1% of adults in the United States had an anxiety disorder in the previous year and an “estimated 3.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.”
In light of the above findings, it’s not uncommon for unhappy couples on the brink of divorce to have a mental health issue that’s playing a role in their decision to break things off with each other.
In some cases, a diagnosis can have a major effect on child custody proceedings, that is depending on the type and severity of mental illness. Are you considering a divorce and there is a question about your mental health or your spouse’s? If so, can it affect your divorce proceedings? Can it affect your children? Can it affect the divorce settlement?
How Mental Illness Can Affect a Divorce
Mental illness can be tricky when it enters the divorce equation. Some people have minor issues that are well-controlled with medications and other therapies. Others have serious mental illnesses that have likely contributed to the divorce itself.
For example, if a wife and mother has debilitating depression and she can’t get out of bed to go to work, care for her children or the house, the husband can become overwhelmed and openly resentful. In these cases, a divorce may be inevitable.
If mental health does play a role in a divorce, it can stigmatize the mentally ill parent and affect how their children see them as a reliable caregiver. If such a parent receives an official diagnosis of anxiety or depression, it can impact the children’s relationship with them. It can change how the children view their parent.
When is mental illness a valid concern? It is when it affects a parent’s ability to properly care for their children. If the mental illness is so severe, it places the children in possible danger of neglect or even abuse, then it becomes a concern for the stable parent.
If it’s just a matter of different parenting styles, not mental illness, it’s better for frustrated spouses to find a different way to persuade their spouse. Remember, children need both parents and no one should be casual about self-diagnosing their spouse as crazy.