The Impact of Mental Health Issues on Divorce & Separation

On World Mental Health Day, we look at the impact mental health issues can have on divorce and separation.

According to the charity Mind, up to 1 in 4 people in England will experience some form of mental health problem each year, while 1 in 6 people will experience a common mental health issue, such as anxiety and depression, every week.

When it comes to divorce and separation, mental health can impact the situation in two ways. Either mental health issues can be a contributory factor in the breakdown of a relationship, or the breakdown of the relationship can be the cause of subsequent mental health problems.

When the problem is severe, it raises the issue of mental capacity and the person’s ability to make sensible decisions regarding a divorce settlement. When this is the case, a doctor needs to assess the person’s capability and if they are found to lack the capacity to make decisions, it is possible to appoint a ‘litigation friend.’ This person can act on the incapacitated person’s behalf and make decisions that are in their best interests. Where there is no conflict of interest, this person can be a family member or friend.

However, the legal consequences can be complex in terms of divorce settlements, if the person’s mental health issues mean they are unable to work, or these issues limit the type of work they can do. This can severely compromise one party’s ability to meet their own financial needs and those of the other party. However, consideration needs to be given as to whether their issues are temporary, and every case needs to consider the individual circumstances. In cases such as these, it is important to take appropriate legal advice from a family lawyer.

At Tisshaws, our empathetic and compassionate approach means we have extensive experience of working with those who have mental health issues. We can advise on the legal impact of the issues on divorce and signpost our clients to help from trusted counsellors, family therapists and psychotherapists.

If you would like any advice on divorce or separation, we offer a no obligation fixed fee one-hour initial consultation for £100 (incl. VAT). This will provide you with legal advice specific to your circumstances. To make an appointment, please call us on 01444 472700, email us on or complete the form below.

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