Managing your family law case (and your emotions) when the opposing party is mentally incompetent

In yesterday’s blog post we introduced the idea that if you have been served with divorce or child custody papers that were filed by your child’s other parent your brief thoughts regarding their mental stability may not be so far-fetched after all. Many family lawcases that end up turning into time and money nightmares were filed by mentally incompetent persons or those with personality disorders.

Once the case has been filed how can you and your attorney manage your case and keep you from feeling like your life is being taken for a ride by a person that may or may not be mentally equipped to understand the full effect of their actions. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will discuss that subject.

Setting your expectations when your opposing party is not mentally stable

While you, your attorney and even the opposing attorney may see a situation in a certain light it is unlikely that your opposing party will agree with your assessment. Remember- reality does not apply to the person with extremely harsh and black/white views of the world and your family law case. It is a fool’s errand to attempt to convey messages appealing to their rational side.

When the truth and the real world are not applicable to a person, you and your attorney will need to figure out ways to communicate ideas that do not rely upon a person’s understanding or acceptance of reality.

The best way to do this is to constantly keep the focus of the case on your child. This goes for any family law case that involves child custody, but I believe it is especially true in a situation where the opposing party has a mental illness or personality disorder. It is unlikely that you will ever get him or her to see things from your vantage point or to see you as an equal or as deserving a parent as he or she. It is likely that on some level he or she wants what is best for your child and loves your child in whatever ways he or she is capable of expressing love.

This can mean that while negotiating with your opposing party your attorney can utilize language that does not draw a distinction between you and the other party, but rather brings everything back to the child. This is literally the only common ground that each of you share.

Your sense of reality is different, your sense of each other is different and your feelings about why you are involved in the case are different. Take the one thing that you share common ground on and base your negotiations on that.

Taking the case to court: How a family law judge can impact a case involving a mentally ill party

While you may not relish the opportunity to bring your family law case in front of a judge, unfortunately, your opposing party will probably not share in that feeling. While you have done “something” in the eyes of the opposing party to wrong him or her, the judge in your case is the person that can hand out justice and cause you to harm due to your “bad actions”. If you think that a judge will be able to see through all this nonsense and give you the relief that you are seeking then you may be in for a rude awakening.

I say this because a judge often lacks the ability to perceive and identify a person with a mental illness or personality disorder and a result your case can be prolonged unless you attempt to call these conditions to the attention of the judge. Filing a motion to have the opposing party examined for a mental illness can be effective to at least bring to the judge’s attention the difficulties that he or she have been causing you.

However, when mental health professionals become involved in a case we often see their opinions not going far enough to isolate the specific characteristics and personality traits that identify a person as having a mental illness or being wholly mentally incompetent to engage in litigation involving a child. With that said, your case can continue despite having other professional persons become involved that had an opportunity to nip in the bud the desire of your opposing party to prolong the case.

Many times the allegations that you make against your opposing party will be met with allegations against you. While the allegations made against you may be baseless and untrue, a judge will need to give equal weight to them until proven otherwise.

If this seems unbelievable or downright stupid then you can join the club of attorneys and litigants have experienced those same thoughts. The fact remains that persons with personality disorders or mental illness can be master manipulators. A judge does not have the time to be able to perform individual assessments of your character and relies on the facts and circumstances presented to him or her to make decisions.

The bottom line is that unless you and your attorney are consistent in your petitions to the court to have the mental health of an opposing party evaluated mental illness or disorders may go undiagnosed. This is bad for your child, bad for you and bad for your case. A situation that could have been resolved with relative quickness can be drawn out due to unacknowledged mental issues with the opposing party in your case.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan: Experienced advocates for southeast Texas families

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan represent clients from all walks of life. In doing so we have encountered opposing parties who have offered challenges that we meet in order to best represent our clients and their families.

To schedule a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family lawattorneys please do not hesitate to contact our office today. A consultation is free of charge and can go a long way towards answering your questions and providing you with peace of mind.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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