You’ve noticed that your spouse has changed. They’re excited and driven one day, but depressed and angry the next. You’ve asked them to seek counseling or to make an appointment with their doctor because you’re worried about their mental health.

They were upset that you suggested that anything was wrong with them, and they refused to go. Now, months later, you can’t take their constant ups and downs. Since they refuse to seek help, you’ve decided that divorce is your only option.

How can you handle mental illness during a divorce?

You may have many concerns about divorcing your spouse right now, such as how your spouse may react to the news or what their mood may drive them to do with your assets. Those are fair concerns. Here are some tips to get through the process:

  1. Gather your support system: The first thing to do is to get a good support system. Talk to your attorney, your family and your friends, and make them aware of the situation. You may also want to reach out to your spouse’s parents or family, to let them know what’s happening. If necessary, seek counseling for your own wellbeing and to deal with your feelings of guilt or loss.
  2. Take steps to protect your assets: Now is a good time to talk to your attorney about how to protect your assets. You may need to set up a different bank account or put items of value in a locked safe in your shared home, for example. That way, those assets are out of your spouse’s reach until the divorce is settled.
  3. Set clear boundaries: As you go through your divorce, set clear boundaries for your spouse. If they get verbally abusive or exhaust you emotionally, you may be wise to direct all phone calls, emails and texts to your attorney. That puts a buffer between you and your spouse.
  4. Document everything: Your spouse’s mental health problems could cause them to exaggerate, misinterpret situations or make false allegations against you. It may also play into custody decisions. You need to keep records of every exchange you and your spouse have — just in case you later have to defend your actions in court.

This is a complicated situation, so rely on your attorney’s guidance moving forward. They may have additional tips to offer that you can use. 

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