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How do I deal with an ex with mental health issues?

The spectrum of mental health problems that can contribute to conflict in a Louisiana marriage and divorce is broad. These issues can't be ignored, but they can be difficult to deal with if you don't have a clear understanding of what the problems might be and a clear strategy for responding.

Drug and alcohol use and abuse can factor in mental health. When they do, it can be crucial to have an attorney with addiction counseling experience at your side. This can be true whether you are the person with the problem or a spouse concerned for your safety and the safety of your children.

Personality disorders appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) along with mental disorders, but experts disagree on how they differ. The most common method of distinguishing between them seems to rest in the extremity of the behaviors. If the behavior has been evident a long time, it might constitute a personality disorder. If it gets worse, it might be diagnosed as a mental illness.

Regardless of what they are called, the disorders are something that need to be taken seriously. In the context of marriage, a personality disorder such as narcissism or histrionics can strain things to the breaking point. If a spouse suffers from borderline or antisocial personality disorder, depression, anger and manipulative behaviors may affect child custody determinations.

If you are in a situation where a spouse's personality disorder is of concern, some experts offer these tips for managing through divorce:

  • Minimize contact with the individual: This would apply to you and to your children.
  • Keep all communication in writing: This should help reduce manipulative tactics by the other spouse. You should also loop your attorney in any time you do communicate.
  • Firm up your personal support system: Having understanding family and friends around you can be critical to your personal well-being.
  • Suspend your social network profiles: It might be better to shut them down altogether. And as an extra measure, erase your online browsing history and make sure all your passwords are secure.

By being aware and taking precautions against behavioral backlash, it may make the passage through divorce smoother.

Source: nwlawyer.wsba.org, "Disorder in Family Court: Addressing personality disorders in high-conflict family law cases," Anthony Zorich, accessed July 26, 2016

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