While much has been written about going through a divorce with a spouse who suffers from narcissism, depression, or even psychopathy, borderline personality disorder (or BPD) is so common and unpredictable that many people who get divorced do not even know that their spouse suffers from a specific mental illness – they just know they cannot take it anymore.
Between one and five percent of the population has BPD and, for unknown reasons, most of them appear to be women. BPD often manifests with symptoms that are similar to those of other personality disorders – unpredictable mood changes, attachment difficulties, impulsiveness, and other difficulties with self-regulation. These behaviors can make it difficult to stay married, but can also make it very difficult to get divorced. If you know or suspect your spouse may have BPD, it is important to be prepared for the implications this may have on your Illinois divorce.
Why Is Divorcing Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder So Hard?
Abandonment is a common fear of those who suffer from BDP; ironically, the unpredictable behavior of someone with BPD often pushes away friends and family, leaving them left to face their fear of being alone. Additionally, the threat of abandonment makes people with BPD lash out in increasingly unpredictable and erratic ways, virtually all but guaranteeing that their partner will leave. A spouse with BPD going through a divorce may become self-destructive, self-harming, or even suicidal.
Because divorce is a protracted process involving the need for ongoing action and communication, spouses with BPD generally feel overwhelmed and may refuse to cooperate. You may receive insults, threats, and unfair accusations that are hurtful and vicious. Although your first instinct will likely be to defend yourself, this can only make it worse. Keep in mind that someone with BPD lashes out to get attention; the best option may simply be to ignore them and allow your attorney to contact your spouse’s attorney instead.
When you do need to communicate, keep it short and fact-based. Avoid getting drawn into personal conversations, even if your spouse wants to apologize and seems genuinely remorseful. Keep records of your communication and avoid acting in any way that could be used against you. Although it may not be fair, staying squeaky clean during the divorce process will minimize the chances that your spouse will have something to use against you if he or she decides to make false accusations.
Contact a Lombard, IL Divorce Attorney With Experience Handling Personality Disorders
At A. Traub & Associates, our experienced DuPage County divorce attorneys have seen it all. If you are divorcing a spouse with a mental health or personality disorder, we are prepared to offer you the legal help you need to protect your family and secure a fair divorce decree. Call us today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a strategic case review and find out more about how we can help.