Divorcing Someone With a Mental Illness in Arizona | Start With the Diagnosis
If you are divorcing someone with a mental illness in Arizona, or at least you believe you are, and are concerned how that mental illness will affect your divorce in Arizona, you should start with first determining the nature and extent of the mental illness.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (“DSM”) is relied upon by mental health professionals to evaluate and determine the nature and extent of certain mental illnesses, as well as to determine how chronic the mental illness is for a given patient. The “DSM” breaks down the general categories of illnesses identified as mental illnesses as:
- Neurodevelopmental Disorders
- Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders
- Bipolar and Related Disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
- Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
- Dissociative Disorders
- Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
- Feeding and Eating Disorders
- Elimination Disorders
- Sleep-Wake Disorders
- Sexual Dysfunctions
- Gender Dysphoria
- Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders
- Substance Related and Addictive Disorders
- Neurocognitive Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Paraphillic Disorders
- Other Mental Disorders
- Medication Induced Movement Disorders and Other Adverse Effects of Medication
- Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention
Each of these conditions could have an impact on the divorce process in Arizona, as well as the final outcome of the case; particularly if children are involved in your divorce. Understanding which diagnosis is applicable to your spouse, the extent of the manifestation of the mental illness, and the impact that will have on your divorce and the outcome of your case should be a critical focus for you and your attorney.
The court’s in Arizona are allowed to order evaluations that may include psychological and/or psychiatric evaluations. It is important to understand that a person divorcing a spouse with a mental illness, as well as the other spouse, lose the rights of confidentiality in the case if child custody issues exist in the case, pursuant to the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling in the In re the Marriage of Gove case. Also, court ordered evaluations are themselves not subject to confidentiality absent an Order from the court sealing those records.
Once the experts have identified the nature and extent of the mental illness, most experts will assess the impact of the mental illness on the parent’s ability to provide for the children’s needs, the safety of the children, and a course of treatment to address the mental illness issues.
Some attorneys simply gloss over claims that a party may have a mental illness. It is important, therefore, to hire a divorce attorney who understands the impact divorcing a spouse with a mental illness in Arizona can have upon your case, as well as the impact it could have upon your children.