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 filed by your child’s other parent, your brief thoughts regarding their mental stability may not be so far-fetched after all. Many family law case cases casescases that turn 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, PLLC, will discuss that subject.

You are 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 particular light, it is unlikely that your opposing party will agree with your assessment. Remember- reality does not apply to the person with highly extreme 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 natural world do not apply 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 keep the case’s focus on your child constantly. This goes for any family law case that involves child custody. Still, I believe it is especially true when the opposing party has a mental illness or personality disorder. It is unlikely that you will ever get them to see things from your vantage point or to see you as an equal or as deserving a parent as they. It is likely that on some level, they want what is best for their child and love their child in whatever ways they are capable of expressing love.

This can mean that while negotiating with your opposing party, your attorney can utilize language that does not distinguish you and the other party but instead brings everything back to the child. This is the only common ground that each of you shares.

Your sense of reality is different, your understanding of each other is further, and your feelings about why you are involved in the case are different. Take the one thing 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 them, 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 you are seeking, you may be in for a rude awakening.

I say this because a judge cannot often perceive and identify a person with a mental illness or personality disorder. As a result, your case can be prolonged unless you attempt to call these conditions to the judge’s attention. 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 they 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.

The allegations you make against your opposing party will often be met with allegation accusations. While the claims 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, you can join the club of attorneys and litigants who 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 perform individual assessments of your character and relies on the facts and circumstances presented to them 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. In 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.

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

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

To schedule a free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys attorneysattorneys, 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, 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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