Divorce is seldom easy, but when mental health issues enter the equation, the complexities can escalate. Lynne Strober, Co-Chair of the Matrimonial and Family Law Practice Group at Mandelbaum Barrett PC, sheds light on this aspect of divorce proceedings.
In her discussion, Strober emphasizes the prevalence of mental health challenges in today’s society. From substance abuse to behavioral issues, the ubiquity of these concerns underscores the importance of addressing them within the context of divorce.
One of the concerns when mental health issues are involved is their impact on custody arrangements. Strober highlights the questions that arise: Is the parent fit to visit the child? Is the child comfortable during visitation? Is the parent seeking appropriate help? These inquiries often require assessments, including evaluations by psychologists and psychiatrists, to ensure the well-being of all parties involved.
However, accessing medical records can pose a challenge due to HIPAA laws, necessitating a balance between obtaining necessary information and respecting privacy rights. Strober emphasizes navigating this aspect with sensitivity and discretion.
In cases where mental health issues are severe, external agencies such as the Division of Protection and Permanency (DCP/P) may become involved, prolonging the legal process. Strober acknowledges the potential for extended litigation, particularly when children’s welfare is at stake.
Moreover, mental health issues can extend beyond custody disputes, affecting employment and financial matters. Strober notes that employment capacity and alimony considerations may be influenced by a party’s mental health status, requiring evaluations to determine the extent of impairment.
As tensions rise during divorce proceedings, Strober warns of potential escalations in behaviors, including allegations of domestic violence. Maintaining a calm environment is crucial for the well-being of all involved, although achieving this is not always feasible.
To mitigate conflicts, Strober suggests alternative measures such as parent coordinators or mediators to facilitate communication and decision-making. Additionally, therapy may be recommended for individuals or families to address emotional distress stemming from the divorce process.
Throughout her discourse, Strober underscores the importance of prioritizing the best interests of the children involved. Courts may appoint guardians ad litem to ensure children’s voices are heard and their welfare is protected.
In conclusion, Strober acknowledges the challenges posed by mental health issues in divorce proceedings. Yet, she advocates for a compassionate and knowledgeable approach, highlighting the pivotal role of seasoned legal counsel in navigating these matters.
As individuals navigate the waters of divorce, Strober’s perspectives serve as a guiding light, offering clarity and empathy in the face of adversity.