A divorcing couple met with me virtually 6 months ago for mediation. The
wife was a shopaholic and had run up significant credit card debts during
the pandemic. She was angry all the time and blew up at the husband and
constantly yelled at the children. The husband, an architect, had decided
he wanted a divorce. His wife was a stay-at-home mom, they had 3 children
and had been married 12 years.
Whenever we had a meeting, the wife controlled the meeting. She talked
over her husband and sometimes yelled at him. She was anxious and had
an aggressive speech pattern. Her behavior dominated our session. As a
psychologically-trained divorce attorney and mediator, I recognized this
behavior and started to pay particular attention.
The wife was unreasonably insistent on getting her way. The husband was
passive; he was not saying much and she seemed to overpower him.
During our third meeting, as we started discussing the children, child
support, finances, and property, it became clear to me that the wife’s
ability to focus, listen to reason or communicate with her husband in
a rational way was not possible. She was disruptive, impulsive and erratic.
After observing these behaviors (since in addition to being an attorney
I have psychological training) it struck me that this wife’s behavior
was indicative of a bipolar disorder.
I told them towards the end of the meeting that day that it was clear to
me they were having difficulty negotiating and I thought there might be
some other issues that needed to be addressed by a therapist before mediation
could continue and be effective.
I offered them the names of a few psychologists/psychiatrists who are part
of my team of experts and suggested they take this route as a first step
toward their divorce journey.
Two weeks later I contacted them, as I usually do to follow-up on how they
were doing. They told me they had been working with one of the doctors
I recommended and that the wife had been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder
and the doctor had prescribed medication.
Five weeks later the couple made another appointment with me. The wife
seemed a lot calmer and focused. She shared with me how much better she
was feeling and how things seemed so much clearer. She said she felt less
stressed and more centered. Her mind was no longer racing. She had also
found some answers as to why her online shopping was unreasonably excessive.
Clearly the diagnosis and treatment were making a huge difference for her
and the marriage. Although the wife was feeling better, they agreed too
much damage had been done and they were going to move forward with a divorce.
We continued the divorce process and had productive meetings addressing
the children, visitation, support, and making really important decisions
regarding their three children and custody.
The mediation process has successfully continued and has recently culminated
in a fair separation agreement. Their divorce will be finalized in a few months.
After hearing this story, do you think your spouse could be bipolar?
Here is what to look for if Bipolar Disorder is the “third party”
in your marriage:
• Mood swings
• Deep sadness
• Compulsive behavior
• 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 means
It is sad when mental illness infiltrates a family. It destroys families
and can affect the dissolution of a marriage. Helping this family identify
there was a mental health issue, and providing the access to medical professionals
to address it allowed them to move forward towards a healthy, happier life.
If you are in a marriage that looks similar to the story I just shared with you,I can help you and your family.
My combination of legal and psychological strategies is unique and effective
when it comes to divorce. The understanding and proper guidance for this
complicated aspect is important for a psychologically safe and legally
For over 35 years as a divorce attorney and mediator, I have been guiding
spouses successfully to find the right path to divorce.
I have the unique ability to provide a compassionate and productive process
to see you through your divorce.
FREE 1 hour consultations are very informative and conveniently conducted virtually to reduce risk!
I look forward to helping you and your family.
Stay healthy and safe!
Call New York Divorce Attorney Lois Brenner Now to schedule your FREE consultation.