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Mental Illness and Divorce

Dealing with Mentall Illness During Divorce

Mental illness  is a factor in many divorces .  Addiction probably tops the list, starting with alcoholism.  Other frequently appearing addictions are illegal and legal drugs, pornography, and gambling.  After addiction comes serious depression, then the uncontrollable behavior of people with bipolar disorder.  Obsessive compulsive disorder and dependency issues are fairly common. Military divorces  often involve a combat veteran's post- traumatic stress disorder, PTSD .  Some form of mental illness usually drives every " high conflict case " in which the parties battle forever over everything.

Mental illness may impair a client's judgment and ability to reason.

Law school  does not train lawyers to deal with mental illness.  However, divorce lawyers are gradually becoming more aware of the pervasiveness and importance of mental illness in their specialty.  Mental illness may impair a client's judgment and ability to reason.  If the impairment makes it impossible for the client to understand the attorney's counsel and follow the attorney's advice, the attorney  is faced with a difficult choice.

When a unimpaired person understands what you're telling him but refuses to follow your advice, you should simply terminate the attorney client relationship.  When a mentally ill person does the same, does some higher duty require an attorney to carry on with the case?  If the attorney concludes that his client is incompetent, what does the attorney do?  Ask the court to appoint a guardian, when the client will probably fire the attorney for even suggesting it's appropriate?

These are difficult questions with no good answers.  Unfortunately they will arise with increasing frequency in the future as the medical community continues to reclassify as mental illness behaviors that people previously endured in others with no thought that they needed therapy sessions or drugs.  You were either sane or insane, and very few people were placed in the latter category. These days you're either unimpaired or mentally ill, and the unimpaired seem to be in danger of extinction.

San Diego Divorce Attorney Stanley D. Prowse is a California Certified Family Law Specialist. We welcome your legal inquiries.


By Attorney Stan Prowse
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    Quotes I went to see Mr. Prowse about a pending divorce. He was very informative. Since this was a long term divorce, I was nervous and scared at the same time. After I met with him, I felt relieved and relaxed. HIs staff was very empathic and compassionate. I would highly recommend Mr. Prowse to anyone going through the same situation.

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