If you are going through a divorce and one of you is mentally ill, you should know that the illness may affect the determination of spousal maintenance; mental illness may affect the sick spouse's ability to do the following:
Ability to Work
Spousal support is not meant to replace regular income: it should supplement it. That is why the receiving spouse's income is also taken into consideration during alimony deliberations. However, your spouse's mental illness may prevent them from working or earning any income. In such a case, the court will be seeking to award your spouse an alimony amount that they can use to take care of themselves without further income.
Ability to Take Care of Themselves
Depending on the degree of illness, your partner's mental illness may also prevent them from being able to take care of themselves. For example, someone who suffers from mental illness may be unable to remind themselves to take their medication, prepare healthy meals, or even perform some household chores safely. In such a case, your spouse may need hired help to assist them in their daily life. If this applies to your spouse's condition, then the amount of alimony they receive would be adjusted to help them pay for the help.
Ability to Afford Health Insurance
Health insurance is always a factor in spousal support; one spouse should not lose their previous health insurance coverage just because of divorce. Therefore, if your mentally ill spouse has been using your health insurance coverage during the marriage, the court is likely to expect the situation to continue after divorce, if your spouse cannot find immediate replacement coverage. If the same health insurance setup cannot continue (maybe it only extends to family members), then the cost of acquiring new coverage may be included in the alimony amount.
Ability to Rehabilitate Themselves Financially
As previously mentioned, alimony is not meant to make one "comfortable" and stop working for themselves. That is why there is rehabilitative alimony, which is meant to help the receiving spouse to get back on their feet, financially speaking. In most cases, this means the alimony payments continue while the paying spouse is furthering their education or starting a business, after which the payments are stopped or reduced. However, if your spouse is mentally ill, it may be difficult or even impossible for them to go back to school or manage a business. In that case, permanent alimony may be awarded.
Whether you are the one who is sick or it's your partner, it's advisable to reveal the illness to your divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Experts in family law and divorce law will know how to use the information to protect your respective rights: