A divorcing couple came to see me for mediation. The husband had significant
outstanding credit card bills. He also drank quite a bit. The wife wanted
a divorce and they had one child.
Whenever we had a meeting, the husband dominated the meeting, talking over
his wife and barely letting her get in a word edgewise. He had an intense,
aggressive speech pattern that caught my attention. He was unreasonably
insistent on getting his way. The wife sat meekly in a corner of the couch,
afraid to interrupt his ranting.
During our second meeting as we started discussing finances, property and
child custody, it became clear to me that the husband’s ability
to focus, listen to reason or communicate with his wife in a rational
way was not possible. After observing these behaviors (since in addition
to being an attorney I have a medical background) it struck me that this
husband’s behavior was indicative of a bipolar disorder.
I told them towards the end of the meeting it was clear to me they were
having difficulty negotiating and I thought there may be some other issues
that needed to be addressed by a therapist before mediation could be effective.
I offered them a few names of doctors who are part of my team of experts
and suggested they take this first step toward their divorce journey.
A few weeks later I contacted them, as I usually do to follow-up on how
they were doing and they told me they had been working with one of the
doctors I recommended and that the husband had been diagnosed with bipolar
II disorder and the doctor had prescribed medication.
Two weeks later they made another appointment and came to see me. The husband
shared with me how much better he was feeling and how things seemed so
much clearer. He felt more focused, less stressed, and calmer. His mind
was no longer racing. He had also found some answers as to why holding
on to a job had been so difficult in his life. Cleary the diagnosis and
treatment was making a huge difference for him and the marriage.
The couple was then able to proceed with their divorce. We continued to
have productive meetings addressing support, finding creative ways to
locate streams of income for the family to survive divorce financially,
and making important decisions regarding their 2-year-old daughter. The
mediation process successfully continued culminating in a separation agreement
they could both live with and they obtained their divorce within 3 months.
Here is what to look for if Bipolar Disorder is the “third party”
in your marriage:
- Quickly moving suddenly from one idea to the next (super mania)
- Having exaggerated self confidence
- Rapid, "pressured" (uninterruptable) and loud speech
- Increased energy, with hyperactivity and a decreased need for sleep
- Difficultly maintaining a schedule, sometimes resulting in having trouble
keeping a job
- Living beyond one’s dreams
It is sad and fascinating to see how much personality affects settlement
of matrimonial cases. Especially when one or both partners have a mood
or character disorder.
If you are in a marriage that looks similar to the couple’s story
I just shared with you,
I can help you.
My combination of legal and medical strategies is unusual and effective
when it comes to divorce. The understanding and proper guidance for this
complicated aspect is important for a psychologically safe and legally
successful outcome. I have the unique ability to provide a compassionate
and productive process to see you through your divorce. I understand that
the underlying problem is often a psychological diagnosis with which couples
Call me if you have any questions or would like more information about
personality disorders and their affect on marriages and family. 212.734.1551.