If you have been through a divorce or child custody case involving your child’s other parent, you may have stopped to ask yourself at various points in the issue whether the opposing party has something “wrong” with them.
You may have even commented to your attorney that they seem to be acting strangely in filing the lawsuit in the first place. It may surprise you to learn that many people involved in family law cases suffer either from mental illness or personality disorders. While I couldn’t say that you experienced this situation, it is not uncommon.
What is a personality disorder?
A personality disorder is a medical term that describes people who have exaggerated personality characteristics- to the point where those characteristics begin to dominate who they are. Their ability to function on a day-to-day basis will have become extremely limited as a result.
This is opposed to a mental illness that encompasses not only a person’s mental state but also their mood, relations with other people as well as activities of daily living.
The most important aspect of a personality disorder or mental illness is how each of these conditions impacts the lives of the people near the suffering individual. Considering that coming into contact with a mentally ill person on the street can be a challenge, your ability to parent and possibly engage in litigation with one can be extremely taxing.
Characteristics of a person with mental illness or a personality disorder
If you have just been served with a divorce or child custody modification suit seemingly out of nowhere, then you may have a mentally ill person or at least an opposing party with a personality disorder as an opposing party. Unfortunately, if you identify the traits of a person living with a personality disorder in your child’s other parent, you may be in for a long and drawn-out case. These folks do not live their lives based on reality or objective facts. Their sense of right and wrong is shaped by reality only apparent in their minds.
What kind of behavior can you identify to have a good idea of whether or not a person has a personality disorder? For starters, if your opposing party has a highly unbending view of the case and is unwilling to negotiate or move off of their previously held opinions, that are a vital sign of a person who has a personality disorder.
While I am not saying that every person with definite opinions has a personality disorder, I would say that if you are willing to compromise on a particular issue but have never seen your opposing party be willing to do so, that may be time to speak to your attorney.
Another characteristic that I have seen in opposing parties with mental stability issues is deflection towards their shortcomings. If your opposing party is volleying accusations at you of being unhinged mentally or dangerous or anything in between, this is a deflection method to keep you from identifying their personality disorders and possible mental illness.
If they believe they are under attack or threat from you, your attorney, or anyone else, they can become furious and will say or do anything to protect themselves and their worldview.
Finally, in the world of a person with a mental illness or personality disorder, everything is either black or white. As an attorney, we operate in the “grey” in almost every case that we are involved in. So you can see from an attorney’s perspective how a person who lives in an all-or-nothing world can complicate a divorce or child custody case.
Their position is entirely correct, and your position is altogether wrong. Your child would be provided with the most extraordinary life known to humanity if allowed to live with them. Your child would be doomed to live a life of squalor, and difficulty is allowed to live with you primarily. There is nothing in between either extreme with people like this.
Once a case gets moving identifying mental illness in a client or opposing party.
It can often be difficult to pinpoint when something is wrong with a client from an attorney’s perspective. Indeed, we represent people from all walks of life and backgrounds, so it would not be fair, or frankly in our area of expertise, to pick out individuals as mentally incompetent. As a result, a case is filed, and the litigation begins. The characteristics that we would typically associate with a person who is suffering mentally are not observed in time.
As a result, a mentally incompetent person can file a child custody modification based on perceptions or thoughts that are not found in reality. This is what I meant earlier when I noted that if you’ve been involved in a child custody case before, you may have stopped and pondered whether or not your opposing party was living in the same world that you were.
Judges are not exposed to either you or the other party to a sufficient degree to identify mental incompetency. With all this said, a long, drawn-out, and expensive case can result due to the unruly behavior of a person who is not healthy from a mental standpoint.
Tomorrow’s blog post: Managing a case with an opposing party who has a mental illness
While being involved in a child custody case where the opposing party has a mental illness is not easy, it can be managed with planning. If you understand how they approach the case, you can set your expectations appropriately. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will continue to discuss this subject with you in tomorrow’s blog post.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about opposing parties with mental illness or personality disorders, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to speak to you about your case and answer any questions you have in a free-of-charge consultation.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Managing your family law case (and your emotions) when the opposing party is mentally incompetent
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- What Wikipedia Can’t Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, 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.