When someone is in an unhappy marriage, it’s normal for them to experience
a wide range of unpleasant emotions, including anger and depression. Suppose
you’re the one in a bad marriage and you’ve been unhappy for
years. Aspects of your marriage may actually make you more susceptible
to depression; for example, if your spouse has been cheating on you, or
if your spouse has been verbally or physically abusive, or if your spouse
is extremely controlling, or terrible with money – all of these
circumstances can contribute to feelings of helplessness and sadness.
The depression that occurs from a bad marriage is different than clinical
depression. When a person becomes depressed due to a bad marriage or a
divorce, it’s called situational depression. Even though clinical depression
and situational depression are different, they manifest in many of the
If your spouse has been having an affair, or verbally or emotionally abusing
you or your children, you may exhibit the following behaviors:
- Feeling worthless
- Not wanting to get out of bed
- Not wanting to leave the house
- A loss of appetite
- Ignoring family responsibilities
- Ignoring household responsibilities
- Avoiding people, including family
- Inability to perform well at work due to trouble concentrating
When Your Spouse Uses Depression Against You
Whether a spouse has been diagnosed with clinical depression, or if they
are understandably depressed
because of the upsetting things going on in their marriage, such as constant arguing
or belittling, it’s not uncommon for depressed spouses to seek help
from their doctor. Often, the treatments for situational depression or
clinical depression will include antidepressants, psychotherapy, or anti-anxiety
medication, along with alternative therapies.
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for bitter spouses to say things
like, “You’re a drug addict because you’re on antidepressants
and anti-anxiety medication and you can’t care for the kids”
or “You won’t get the kids because you’re crazy and
on meds” or “You’re unable to care for the kids because
you’re depressed all the time.”
In these situations, often the depressed spouse will admit that their husband
or wife is “the reason” behind their depression. Depressed
spouses may want to leave their husband or wife, but they’re afraid
they’ll lose their children in a divorce. So, the question is, can
taking antidepressants hurt a parent’s chances of custody in a divorce?
Your Spouse Can Use It as Ammunition
Unfortunately, your spouse can use your depression (situational or clinical)
and use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to try and obtain
custody of your children. However, your depression won’t necessarily
bar you from getting primary physical
custody. Still, your spouse can use your depression as a ploy to get the upper
hand in the divorce.
Essentially, if your spouse says that you cannot properly care for the
children because of your use of prescription drugs or otherwise and because
of your mental state, the judge will be interested in learning more. It’s
about whether you are being responsible and if you are caring for yourself
and your children.
If it comes down to it, you may need to show the court that:
- Your prescriptions were prescribed by a doctor,
- You are taking your medications according to your doctor’s directions,
- You are not abusing prescription drugs or illegal drugs (e.g. taking a
prescription without a valid prescription),
- Your medications are not adversely affecting your behavior, and
- Your depression is not preventing you from taking care of your children.
If you can prove the above, then your depression and use of antidepressants
should not adversely affect child custody. Remember, you are your children’s
mother or father and your spouse’s allegations should not be enough
to make you lose your children. As their mother or father, you have parental
rights, and judges are not in the practice of severing such rights without
Don’t Let Your Spouse Threaten You
Is your spouse using your depression as ammunition against you? Is he or
she saying that you won’t get the children because you’re
on medication or too depressed to care for your children? If your answer
is “yes” to either question, it’s time to contact a
divorce attorney. In fact, if you can be the one to file for divorce first,
you will be at an advantage.
By contacting a lawyer before your spouse does, you can address these issues
that have you worried, and you’ll gain the peace of mind that you
need right now. Once you file the divorce action and your spouse is served,
your attorney can file a motion for temporary orders for child custody
and where applicable, child and spousal support.
Unfortunately, it is very common for spouses to bully each other before
and during a divorce. Divorce is already stressful enough and it’s
made worse when a spouse threatens the other and makes him or her fear
they will lose their children. Such conduct can make one feel uncertain
about their future and it can make them question whether they should go
through with the divorce.
When people are in stressful marriages, it is not uncommon for them to
be prescribed antidepressants, even during a divorce. If you seek help
from a doctor because you’re trying to stay in balance so you can
shoulder your responsibilities as a parent and otherwise, then you’re
not ignoring the problem. We urge you to contact our office to start your
divorce action and get court orders as soon as possible, which will address
child custody and all other issues that are concerning you at this time.
No matter your situation, our Los Angeles Divorce Attorneys,
Lance Claery and
Eli Hammond can help.
Contact us today to protect your parental rights.