Divorce and mental health issues are very difficult for the Court system to get right. At SIEGELLAW, this is a main part of our daily practice. Picture this. You have been married to your spouse for awhile. You have a couple of kids together. Everything started off just fine, but over the past couple of years, it has not been going so well.
Your spouse shows signs of mental health issues. Maybe it is bipolar. Maybe it is narcissistic tendencies. Perhaps a borderline personality. In any event, it isn’t pretty, and now, you have no idea who this person is that you married.
You have spent the last several months, trying to get your spouse into counseling and treatment, but they refuse. Now your spouse is starting to get belligerent towards you, saying that you are the problem and that you are the one who needs to get off your spouse’s back.
Now your spouse has said they have had it with you and wants a divorce. You are shocked since you are really the aggrieved spouse here.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It is unfortunately all too common.
The problem here is that when you get a divorce, you are going to need to prove that your spouse really is the problem. While “technically” the Court systems are prepared to handle mental health issues, the truth is that they really aren’t prepared to handle them even in the least!
Let me walk you through two different scenarios, an easy one and one that is much more complex.
Scenario one. Your spouse has a raging cocaine problem. They stay out all night. You are being a single parent to the children. Your spouse has been found passed out in the hallway, in the car, on the side of the road and downtown in a horrible area known for drug transactions. Your spouse is in total denial and is going to force you to prove everything. And your spouse refuses to leave the marital home, even though on two occasions, your spouse’s dealer shone up at your house in the middle of the night.
This is the easier scenario as you have many options how to handle it, both before filing in Court and in the court system.
But let’s look at scenario 2, the more difficult one. You start with scenario one, your spouse denies everything, and you are now in Court in front of the judge. You tell the judge everything that has happened. Your spouse denies everything-convincingly.
Here is your risk. The judge says that you are the liar and trying to stand between your spouse and the children. Then the judge gives your spouse custody of your children, saying that you cannot be trusted.
Think this scenario is fantasy or cannot happen? Don’t kid yourself. This scenario plays out in the Maryland courts every month, every year.
Here’s the issue. Judges need more information to make better rulings. They can only rule based on what they see and hear in trial. They do not know your life.
You need to get an experienced divorce and custody attorney who will know how to combat this scenario with expert witnesses, fact witnesses, custody evaluations, mental health evaluations and more.
But again, don’t be so jaded to think that an experienced divorce attorney will be the game-changer, because a great deal of the time, judges refuse custody evaluations, mental health evaluations, and expert witnesses cost a great deal of money.
Cases such as these can cost each spouse $25,000, $50,000 or more to take all of the way to trial.
Doom and gloom? You betcha. That’s because the justice system is not designed to get to the correct result. It’s designed to be “blind.” Ever look at the picture of Lady Justice? She’s blind! That is intentional.
So what can you do?
Sometimes, the answer is nothing, and you have to “attorney up” and take it to your spouse at full speed. Occasionally, you can have your attorney maneuver the case to the correct mediator who deals with severe mental health and personality disorders that will help you stop the emotional and financial bleeding.
Just do your homework finding your divorce attorney. At SIEGELLAW, high conflict custody and divorce is a major aspect of our daily practice.