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Divorcing Someone with Mental Illness: Special Considerations

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illinois-divorce-mental-illnessThe anxiety of divorce can be amplified when you are attempting to part ways with a partner afflicted with mental illness. According to Susan Pease Gadoua, founder and executive director of the Transition Institute of Marin in California, understanding the scope of the mental illness before getting a divorce can be helpful in preparing you for some of the challenges you might face.

One of the challenges in considering dissolving a marriage with a mental ill partner is that he or she may lead you to believe that they need you in order to cope with their illness or overcome it. This can feel like an extra burden and may make you feel guilty, too. If you have already put in months or years of helping your spouse manage or work through the issues related to their mental illness, making that final determination to divorce is all the more difficult.

Gadoua says that guilt over leaving a partner is a leading reason why partners stay in these relationships and marriages. One of the biggest challenges in living with a mentally ill partner is that behaviors that would be “red flags” or reality checks in other relationships become everyday normality for the healthy partner.

It is very easy to give in and spend all your time focusing on the needs of your partner, but it is important to conduct reality checks for you, too. Take some time to consider how the behavior and challenges are affecting your life. Spend some time speaking with a counselor to get some additional insight.

If you make the decision to move forward with your separation, surrounding yourself with a loving support system to help you through what can be a hard transition in the Illinois divorce process. If you are ready for more legal advice about divorcing a mentally ill partner, speak with an Illinois family lawyer today.

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