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Thinking of Divorcing a Bipolar Spouse?


A couple met with me virtually during the pandemic. 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 of three children and they 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 sessions. 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 we had productive meetings addressing the children, visitation, support, and making really important decisions regarding their three children and custody.

The mediation process successfully continued and culminated in a fair separation agreement.

The wife has continued treatment and is living a much healthier life!

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
  • Irritability
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Quickly moving suddenly from one idea to the next (super mania)
  • 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 the issue, 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 complicated mental illness is important for a psychologically safe and legally sound outcome.

For more than 35 years as a divorce attorney and mediator, I have been successfully guiding spouses 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.

Our FREE 1-hour consultations are veryinformative and still conveniently conducted virtually!

I look forward to helping you and your family.

Warm regards,


If mental illness is a third party in your marriage and you are considering divorce, call New York Divorce Attorney Lois Brenner now to schedule your FREE consultation.

We still have a few openings available this week! Call right now!