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Divorce is never easy, but mental health issues can add an additional layer of complication. Minnesota is a no-fault dissolution state, so illness (whether physical or mental in nature) cannot serve as grounds for divorce. Still, mental illness can play a significant role in several aspects of divorce — most notably, maintenance and child custody.

Spousal Maintenance

Minnesota state law mandates that maintenance can be awarded if the spouse seeking maintenance “is unable to provide adequate self-support…through appropriate employment.” If mental health issues make it impossible for a divorcing spouse to hold down steady employment, maintenance may come into play. The standard of living enjoyed while married plays a chief role in determining maintenance, as does the time and effort believed necessary to become self-sustaining.

Child Custody and Visitation

Depending on the extent of your ex’s illness, you may not deem him or her capable of providing the level of care your children require. While local courts take several factors into account when determining custody arrangements, illness can sometimes make it more difficult to secure custody. Courts generally deem it in the child’s best interest to maintain strong relationships with both parents, but if significant illness impedes parenting ability, primary physical custody may be granted to the healthier spouse. Restrictions on parenting time are especially likely if the court determines that the ill parent is likely to “endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development.”

Whether you or your ex is dealing with mental illness, it is important to disclose this as soon as you begin working with an attorney. Mental health concerns could ultimately shape your legal strategy, so they’re worth addressing early on.

Regardless of your mental health status or that of your ex, you deserve support from a compassionate attorney who understands your concerns. The team at the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. will lend you a helping hand every step of the way. Reach out today to learn more.