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How Can Mental Illness Influence Divorce and Family Law Cases?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton Family Law AttorneyJohns Hopkins Medicine reports that approximately 26 percent of adults in the United States have some form of mental illness. Depression and anxiety are some of the most common psychological problems experienced by Americans.  Panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia are less common, but these illnesses still affect millions of Americans.

If you or a family member suffer from a mental illness, you may wonder how the illness can influence divorce, parentage, child custody, or other family law matters. Read on to learn more.

Mental Illness in Divorce Proceedings

There are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois, so mental illness is not listed as a reason for the divorce. However, a spouse’s mental illness can influence a divorce case. When a spouse has a mental illness, he or she may be less capable of participating in mediation or divorce-related negotiations. The spouse may struggle with court paperwork or procedures.

Most mental illness sufferers are non-violent. However, if a spouse has a mental illness that causes him or her to lash out at others, this may pose a danger to the other spouse or family members. The other spouse may want to get an order of protection in a situation like this.  

Psychological Problems in Child-Related Legal Matters

Mental illnesses can also impact child custody and other child-related legal matters. Illinois courts prioritize the child’s best interests above all else in child-related cases. Sometimes, the court requires a parent or other party to undergo a psychological evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to gauge the severity of the parent’s mental health issue and how that issue may affect his or her ability to parent. The evaluation is conducted by a licensed mental health practitioner. The evaluator may interview the parent, the child, and other family members, as well as the child’s teacher or doctor. The party being evaluated may be asked to take psychological tests. The evaluator may visit the child’s home to determine whether it is a safe environment for children.

Sometimes, the court appoints a guardian ad litem in cases involving mental illness. The guardian ad litem assesses the circumstances of the case and makes an informed recommendation to the court about the case’s outcome.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

If you want to learn more about how mental health conditions may influence your family law or divorce case, contact Goostree Law Group. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can provide the legal advice and representation you need. Call 630-364-4046 for a free consultation.




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