Family Law Cases Involving Mental Incompetence of a Party

Can you legally divorce a mentally incompetent person? It may surprise you that many involved in family law cases struggle with mental illness or personality disorders. While I can’t confirm if you’ve faced this scenario, it’s a frequently encountered situation. Dealing with legal matters involving mentally incompetent individuals necessitates careful consideration of their condition and its impact on the divorce process.

If you’ve been through a divorce or child custody case with your child’s other parent, you might have questioned their behavior, wondering if something is wrong. You might have even mentioned to your attorney that their actions seem unusual when they initiated the lawsuit.

What is a personality disorder?

A personality disorder is a medical term that describes people who have exaggerated personality characteristics. It is 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 differs from mental illness, which affects a person’s mental state and influences their mood, relationships, and daily activities.

The critical aspect of a personality disorder or mental illness is its impact on those close to the affected individual. 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’ve recently received service for a divorce or child custody modification suit seemingly out of nowhere, you may have a mentally ill person or at least an opposing party with a personality disorder on the other side.

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 a reality apparent only in their minds. What behavioral cues indicate a possible personality disorder?

1. Unwilling to Negotiate

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. I am not saying that every person with definite opinions has a personality disorder. However, 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.

2. Deflection Towards Shortcomings

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 mentally unhinged or dangerous or anything in between, they are using a deflection method to prevent 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.

3. No “Grey” Area

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.

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.

A mentally incompetent person may seek child custody changes based on unreal thoughts. This means they might not share the same reality. Judges are not exposed to either you or the other party to a sufficient degree to identify mental incompetency. All of this means that someone’s mental health issues can lead to a long, expensive, and complicated legal case.

Navigating divorce proceedings involving mentally incompetent individuals requires careful attention to their condition and its implications on legal matters. While many individuals involved in family law cases grapple with mental illness or personality disorders, addressing these complexities sensitively and understandingly is crucial.

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, you can manage it 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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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.

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