Divorcing While Bipolar

Divorce is almost always a wrenching and emotionally challenging life experience.  When one of the spouses has a disability, such as a diagnosis of major depression or bipolar, the questions to be addressed can be complex and difficult to settle.

We are not attorneys and this post should not be understood as legal advice, but we do want to suggest a few areas that folks with bipolar and depression need to be aware of.  Consult an attorney for specifics of your situation in your state.

Spousal support

If your diagnosis occurred during the marriage, your spouse may have greater responsibility for your support after the divorce.  This will vary depending on your employment history before the marriage and before the diagnosis, as well as your ability to support yourself afterwards.  In some states, there is a statutory limit for spousal support after divorce, but the limits may be higher in the case of a disability.  Both spouses need to discuss financial needs openly in order to move forward without unpleasant surprises along the way.

Parental custody

If there are children to consider, the issue of custody can also be complicated by the disabled spouse’s needs and abilities.  Financial planning is also important at this time, and a professional financial planner can help you develop a budget that allows for the needs of the children, disabled spouse and working spouse.  A good financial plan should tell you what assets you have, how they can be divided at the time of divorce, and how finances can be managed going forward.

Insurance should also be considered, if the disabled spouse is carried on the working spouse’s insurance, they may need to continue there, or other insurance needs and costs must be worked into the financial plan.

Emotional support and communication

In addition to the above “nuts and bolts” considerations, both spouses’ (and the childrens’) need for emotional support and clear communication should not be neglected.  Suppressing feelings and refusing to explain clearly one’s own needs will make the more mundane considerations like insurance coverage more difficult to navigate.  Taking the time to be sure everyone involved has the space and security to express their needs and concerns will pay off later as the rest of the process can go more smoothly.

Divorce is hard, and can be a lonely time, but with forethought and planning, the worst of the barriers can be addressed and agreements can be reached by all parties.

For more information:

Tips for divorce when one of you is disabled

Factors to consider when divorcing a spouse with a disability