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Divorcing a spouse with mental illness

According to MentalHealth.gov, in 2014, one in five Americans suffered from a mental health issue, and one in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Mental illness isn't just difficult for those who live with the conditions themselves, it is also extremely difficult on the families of people with mental illness. Spouses, especially, can feel at a loss of what to do, especially when their loved ones refuse to get help or acknowledge the issue.

Mental illness can make divorce decision difficult

The decision to end a marriage is never easy, but this is especially true if a spouse suffers from mental illness.

In many cases, spouses feel guilty for wanting to end the marriage and are scared that their husband or wife's condition could get worse if they leave. They may also be worried about being judged by others, or even fear for their own safety.

The truth is that mental illnesses -- such as depression, addiction or personality disorders -- are contributing factors in many divorces.

Experienced family law attorneys and judges have handled numerous cases involving mental illness. They do not judge individuals for leaving spouses with mental illness, and they know how to keep these individuals safe.

How to decide if divorce is the right option

Seeing a therapist, counselor or another mental health professional can be very helpful when deciding if divorce is the right thing to do. Because this is such an important and often stressful decision, it is always a good idea to get support.

The mental health professional may also have recommendations for treatment options that could potentially help the spouse with mental illness as well as the marriage.

If it is decided that divorce is the right option, then it is important to meet with an experienced divorce lawyer right away who can provide advice on the steps to take.

Divorce cases involving spouses with mental health issues can escalate quickly, so it is important to have a legal advocate from the very beginning.

This is not something you need to take on alone

The bottom line is that divorcing a spouse with mental illness is not a process to take on alone. With support from the right professionals, you can feel safe and confident about your decision to move forward with your life, if that is what you want.

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