Divorce: Personality Disorders and Addiction | Divorce Lawyers & Family Law Solicitors | Austin Kemp

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Divorce: Personality Disorders and Addiction

Addiction and mental health disorders impact relationships in complex ways.

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Legal 500
Leading Firm 2024

. In some situations, it is no longer possible to repair the relationship, and divorce is the ideal choice for all involved.

This type of divorce can be difficult for many reasons, which is why working with highly experienced divorce solicitors like our team at Austin Kemp can provide the exceptional support, trusted guidance, and compassion you need right now.

How Can Austin Kemp’s Divorce Solicitors Help You?

Our experience in working with people who are going through difficult relationships and even crises right now can work in your favour. We understand the complexities of these situations, the fear, worry, and stress involved, and the overwhelming need to let change occur. With our connection within the UK and Wales region to therapeutic resources, we aim to provide you with the support you need in navigating this difficult situation.

We encourage you to seek out the mental health care you need. It will be critical for your future wellbeing. Let us handle the legalities and limitations you’re facing.

Managing Divorce with a Spouse Who Has a Borderline Personality Disorder

Divorce is always difficult. There is nearly always the need to seek out a fair divorce settlement, but what does that mean when someone within the relationship has a personality disorder? Will this impact your ability to divorce?

Personality disorders are a type of mental illness in which there is a pattern of ongoing varying moods, behaviours, and self-image concerns. In some cases, a person can lash out, be aggressive, or be manipulative. Other times, they may engage in self-destructive behaviour, suicidal thoughts or actions, and self-harm. This can worsen when they are faced with the prospect of divorce.

It is not uncommon for a person with a personality disorder like this to seek out any means necessary to try to convince you to stay in the marriage. Often, this type of action can be drastic, manipulative, and deceitful. Yet, you may be worried about what they will do if you proceed.

Our goal during this process is to provide you with the legal recourse you need in managing these difficult situations. At the heart of this is communication.

If someone takes actions like the following, seek out legal guidance and support for them immediately:

  • Threatens you
  • Insults you
  • Creates demands of you
  • Tries to blame you for their actions
  • Abuses you emotionally, mentally, or physically
  • Threatens or tries to commit suicide
  • Threatens to harm you, the children, or family members

It is very difficult to manage communication during the divorce process as a result of these types of threats and actions. That is why we recommend removing yourself from the situation and seeking out ongoing support for your own mental wellbeing.

  • Limit as much unnecessary communication as possible with this person
  • Keep conversations to the facts and short
  • Do not engage when they lash out – it only worsens the situation
  • Allow your solicitor to handle the legal work of providing communication with your spouse
  • Allow your divorce solicitor to guide you in moving this situation forward

If you are ever in danger, be sure to leave the situation. Work to protect yourself from this difficult process.

Will Your Case Go to Court?

In nearly all situations, the goal of any divorce process is to settle matters without having to allow the Court to make decisions in your situation. However, that may not occur in some situations, especially in situations where mental illness is present. There are some situations where a person may have one of the Cluster B types of personality disorders, and those often result in court proceedings. This includes conditions such as:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder, including psychopaths and sociopaths

Divorce during this process can often lead to threatening or troublesome behaviour. You may learn, for example, that a spouse is hiding money in the divorce. You may find they are making claims that are not true. Other times they may find ways to blame you for the divorce or failure of the marriage in an effort to protect their own mental health and beliefs.

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It is not possible to diagnose a person on your own.

However, the following are some guidelines that you may see present in your spouse if they have one of these personality disorders.


A person who has a narcissistic tendency is likely to be very self-absorbed and unable to hear or listen to another perspective. They are very focused on what they want and are unable to focus on anything else. They often are very manipulative and lack empathy.

There are various forms of narcissism, and in each, you will find tendencies like the following:

  • Believing they are more intelligent
  • Providing opinions or advice that is unsolicited
  • Likes to shine a light on themselves
  • Boasts often about their accomplishments
  • Places themselves above everyone else
  • Makes other people feel poorly about themselves
  • Humiliates other people to build themselves up
  • Tries to destroy you in some way
  • Cannot handle anyone else making decisions

Antisocial personality disorder

Those who fall into this area tend to have numerous nuances that make them very difficult to work with. It is not the type of antisocial that brings on anxiety or hiding away from people. Rather, those who have this personality disorder tend to not feel they need to conform to the rules of society. They may seem like they do not care about anyone, even though they are brilliant actors making it seem as if they do.

Some common tendencies you may experience in those with these types of conditions include:

  • Charming and charismatic
  • Cruel to animals
  • Uses humour as well as flirtation or intellect to get what they want
  • Tends to use drugs or alcohol
  • Manipulative behaviours
  • Invents outrageous lies about their experiences
  • Takes risks without concern for others
  • Fails to respect any boundaries set
  • Lacks empathy, is unfeeling, or harsh
  • Cheats, steals, and lies

Borderline personality disorder

Another condition that may be present and problematic in divorce is a borderline personality disorder, which includes situations where people are unable to regulate their emotions and often use anger to fuel them.

  • Those who have this condition may have tendencies such as:
  • Trouble maintaining relationships
  • Irrational behaviours that leave people feeling abused or helpless
  • Instant mood switches and unpredictable behaviour
  • Feel like you are walking on eggshells around them
  • Self-harm or suicide threats or actions
  • Everything is either all good or all bad without any middle ground
  • They used words and actions to twist and work against you

If you suspect your spouse has any of these conditions, their primary first step is to seek mental health care. You should seek out the services you need from our divorce solicitor at Austin Kemp for legal guidance and support.

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Divorce and Addiction

Another common difficult component of divorce occurs when your spouse has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications. In these situations, you may feel like many of the above, unable to move forward because of their threats against you or themselves or their irrational, reckless behaviour.

In this situation, it is critical for you to take steps to protect yourself. That should include working with a solicitor who can help you protect your rights.

A person with addiction may exhibit tendencies such as:

  • Lying or otherwise hiding their substance use
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to put anything else before their use of substances
  • Financial, legal, and emotional disturbances
  • Promises to stop but does not do so
  • Aggressive behaviour that puts you at risk

How to Obtain a Divorce When Facing Addiction and Personality Disorders

Though a bit more complex because of the way these types of divorces can become out of control, it is still critical that you take action to protect yourself. Our divorce solicitors at Austin Kemp will work closely with you to help you every step of the way. Some of the services we can provide include:

  • Helping you to break off communication with your spouse and handle all of the legalities on your behalf
  • Complete forensic accounting to establish a fair financial outlook
  • Provide guidance and document evidence on the abuses you’ve faced as a result of their behaviour
  • Help you to complete all required documentation to file for divorce
  • Go to Court to defend you if it is necessary to do so

At Austin Kemp, our comprehensive and long history of helping people through challenging divorce situations makes us uniquely qualified to support you right now. Whether you need help establishing a financial order, hope to buy a home after divorce, or are unsure how you will start over because you do not know what you are entitled to, reach out to us for guidance and support.

Contact Austin Kemp Today for Legal Support

You do not have to go through this alone. You do not have to remain in a marriage because your spouse has a mental health disorder or addiction. Contact Austin Kemp today to speak to our divorce solicitor to learn more about your rights.

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