Deciding to take the final step to end a relationship is never an easy decision, but divorce can become much more complex when one spouse has issues with a psychological condition that compromises his or her capacity. Mental illnesses and cognitive conditions are challenging to recognize and adequately address, and staying in a marriage with a person experiencing these issues may not be advisable if issues of safety and emotional stability are an issue for either spouse.
Divorce requires making a number of significant and binding decisions, and the presence of mental illness or cognitive dysfunction can greatly alter how these decisions are handled, as well as how the impaired spouse may respond to divorce as a whole. The overarching influence of mental illness in some divorces is rarely discussed, primarily due to the stigma associated with mental illness in this country generally. However, mental health issues can take many forms, from alcohol abuse to bipolar disorder, and these issues can affect a relationship in a wide variety of ways. Mental illness will touch more couples than is generally recognized, and it can affect divorce proceedings in the following ways:
Grounds for Divorce
A number of states include a provision in the law that authorizes a divorce if mental incapacity of a spouse is established; however, Illinois is not one of them. Until 2016, Illinois retained a divorce system that was primarily fault-based, and one possible grounds for divorce was drug and alcohol addiction, conditions that are known to alter the abuser’s mental state at least temporarily, and sometimes permanently. Qualified no-fault divorce did exist, but it required lengthy separation and other requirements that could be burdensome to satisfy....
In today's society, many Americans split their lives between in-person interactions and social media communications, and not necessarily in that order. This tendency to put a large chunk of one's life online does not go away when a couple decides to divorce. Social media and other forms of electronic communication (email, text, etc.) can present issues during the divorce proceedings.
In the wake of divorce, emotions can take over and cause a person to say, write or do something out of character as a way to cope with the situation. Before social media, incidents of this type rarely made it to the courtroom. However, social media and electronic communication generally memorializes the behavior and therefore makes using an email or post as damaging evidence in the divorce case easier for the other spouse.
One example of how digital evidence is becoming more prevalent in divorce cases, and in litigation, involves an Illinois man who recently sued his ex-wife for violations of federal wiretapping and privacy laws. The lawsuit claims the ex-wife gained unauthorized access to his email accounts and used them in their divorce case, which spanned from 2011 to 2016, to get a better settlement....
Disputes over child custody and visitation between parents are an unfortunate but common occurrence. Further, when parents separate or divorce, the impact is felt far beyond the core family unit. Relatives and friends often lose valuable and important connections in the aftermath of these decisions, however necessary and well-intentioned. The significance of some of these relationships between a non-parent adult and the child can sometimes be enough to motivate the other adult to explore the possibility of seeking visitation or custody rights if there is a fear that contact will be cut off. However, the law is not especially keen to award parental responsibilities to non-parents, and great pains are taken to limit when exceptions to this policy may apply.
Parents are viewed as the primary and best source to raise a child, and other adults are always considered a last resort. Consequently, non-parent adults are generally unable to receive custody rights over a child, absent extenuating circumstances. A recent example of this policy is evident in the denial of a grandmother's petition for guardianship over her young granddaughter. The child's mother is serving a prison sentence in Bali for murder, but the Court said that even in this situation, the mother's consent to guardianship was necessary. However, Courts are permitted to make exceptions for certain parties seeking custody under specific circumstances.
Who May Petition...