Open/Close Menu Law Office of Daniel Hutto

Divorce is complex and emotionally charged, even under the best circumstances. The stakes increase when one or both parties deal with mental health problems. 

This article aims to guide you through how mental health conditions can impact various facets of divorce proceedings in Arizona and why having an experienced divorce attorney is essential. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, approximately one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness yearly. Given the prevalence, it’s unsurprising that mental health is increasingly considered in divorce cases.

If you have more questions about how to get a divorce or need expert guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Law Office of Daniel Hutto. We specialize in family law and divorce, offering tailored advice and representation for your unique situation.

This article covers the following topics:

mental health or illness in a divorce

Traumatic Stress and Divorce in Arizona 

When going through a divorce in Arizona, individuals may experience traumatic stress, which can significantly impact their mental and emotional well-being.

Divorce is a significant life change that often involves conflict, financial strain, and uncertainty about the future.

These factors can generate high-stress levels, leading to anxiety, depression, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.

Traumatic stress can also manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and changes in appetite.

It is essential for individuals experiencing traumatic stress during divorce to seek support from therapists, counselors, or support groups.

Arizona offers various resources for individuals dealing with divorce, including programs and services aimed at helping them navigate the legal and emotional aspects. By addressing and managing the traumatic stress associated with divorce, individuals in Arizona can improve their overall well-being and enhance their ability to cope with the challenges of this life transition. 

Can Mental Illness Impact My Child Custody Case?

Custody decisions are always made with the child’s best interest in mind, as stipulated by Arizona Revised Statutes §25-403.

When a parent has mental health issues, the court will carefully consider whether these issues might negatively affect the child’s well-being.

Depending on the severity of the condition, it may lead to limitations on parenting rights or even loss of custody.

Three key factors are:

  1. Nature and Severity of the Mental Health Issue: Mild depression might not significantly impact the court’s decision, but severe conditions requiring hospitalization could.
  2. Treatment Compliance: Courts look favorably on parents who are actively treating their mental health conditions.
  3. Past Behavior: Evidence of neglect or abuse due to mental health can seriously hinder a parent’s chances of obtaining custody.

Recommended Choice When Searching “Family Attorney Near Me”

We Are Here To Listen. Schedule a Free Consultation Today & Speak with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Now.

Impact of Mental Health on Alimony

Alimony, or spousal maintenance, is governed by Arizona Revised Statutes §25-319.

While mental health issues are not explicitly listed as a factor in determining alimony, they can play an indirect role.

For instance, if a spouse’s mental health condition has inhibited their ability to work and sustain themselves financially, they may be more likely to receive alimony.

Conversely, if a spouse’s mental illness has caused financial strain due to medical expenses, this could impact the amount awarded.

divorce confidentiality

Mental Health Records and Confidentiality: Specific Circumstances for Disclosure

The confidentiality of mental health records in divorce is a delicate and often contentious issue.

While Arizona law upholds the general principle of confidentiality for medical records, including those related to mental health, there are certain situations where these records may be admissible in court.

When mental health records are subpoenaed, the court takes a balanced approach, carefully considering the necessity of disclosing such sensitive information against the privacy rights of the individual involved.

Subpoena Criteria

Under Arizona law, mental health records can be subpoenaed if deemed essential to the case. This typically happens in child custody battles, alimony determinations, or when mental health is cited as a significant factor affecting the marriage. To subpoena these records, one must show that the information within is critical to the case and cannot be obtained through other means.

Arizona Court Review

Once a subpoena request is made, the court will perform an in-camera review, which is a private examination of the records by the judge. During this review, the judge assesses whether the need for this information outweighs the individual’s right to privacy. If it’s determined that the records are crucial for the case, the judge may allow specific portions to be disclosed.

Protective Measures

Even when the court allows mental health records to be used, it usually imposes protective measures to minimize harm. This could include redacting certain parts of the records or limiting the people who can view them. The aim is to protect the privacy of the individual as much as possible while still allowing for a fair legal process.

Consequences of Disclosure

It’s essential to understand that once mental health records are introduced into court proceedings, they may have far-reaching implications. For example, in a child custody case, the records might influence the judge’s decision on who is better fit to have custody. Likewise, in alimony considerations, these records could tip the scales in favor of one party.

Understanding how mental health records may be used in a divorce proceeding in Arizona requires specialized legal expertise. If you find yourself in such a situation, consult an expert family law attorney from The Law Office of Daniel Hutto to guide you through the complexities of the legal system.

community property asset division

Mental Health and Property Division

Arizona is a community property state, as per Arizona Revised Statutes §25-211.

This generally means that marital assets are split equally.

Mental health issues usually won’t directly impact property division unless those issues have led to dissipation of assets, such as costly medical treatments or unemployment.


Arizona operates under a “no-fault” divorce system, which is defined by Arizona Revised Statutes §25-312.

In a no-fault divorce state like Arizona, you don’t have to demonstrate that your spouse committed any marital misconduct to file for divorce.

This makes the process of dissolving a marriage somewhat streamlined, as the focus is not on laying blame but on resolving the issues that arise during the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and alimony.

No-Fault Divorce and Its Implications

In a no-fault divorce, either party can file for divorce without providing a reason beyond “irreconcilable differences.” This is particularly beneficial when the parties want to separate amicably and quickly without airing personal grievances in court. However, this also means that having a mental illness is generally not a determining factor in the eligibility for filing a divorce.

The Contextual Role of Mental Illness

While mental illness may not serve as legal grounds to grant a divorce due to the no-fault framework, it can still be a contextual factor in the proceedings. For instance, if one spouse’s mental health condition has led to patterns of neglect or abuse within the marriage, this could be considered when deciding on matters like child custody or spousal support.

Courts may view a history of untreated mental illness as a potential risk to the well-being of children, which could influence custody arrangements.

Given these nuances, if mental illness is a significant factor in your marriage and impending divorce, seeking legal guidance from a knowledgeable Arizona family law attorney is crucial. They can help you understand how the courts may view your situation and what legal steps you can take to protect your interests.


mental illness impact divorce

What To Do If Mental Health Is a Factor in Your Divorce

If mental health is a complicating factor in your divorce, it’s essential to consult with professionals. Alongside medical practitioners, an experienced family law attorney can help you make informed decisions and represent your interests effectively in court.

Hypothetical Scenario: Sarah and John’s Divorce

Let’s consider a hypothetical example of Sarah and John, a couple going through a divorce where John struggles with severe depression. Sarah worries that John’s condition may impact their children’s well-being and is unsure how it may affect custody arrangements.

  1. Initial Consultation: Sarah consults with an expert family law attorney to discuss her concerns. The attorney advises her on how mental health conditions like John’s can affect custody decisions under Arizona Revised Statutes §25-403. They outline potential outcomes and legal strategies to protect the best interests of the children involved.
  2. Gathering Evidence: At the attorney’s guidance, Sarah collects evidence demonstrating how John’s depression has led to neglectful behavior towards the children, such as missing school events and leaving them unattended.
  3. Court Representation: During the custody hearing, Sarah’s attorney presents the evidence while respecting John’s privacy and medical confidentiality. The attorney argues that, given the circumstances, limited supervised visitation would be in the best interest of the children.
  4. Negotiating Alimony: Furthermore, Sarah’s attorney helps her understand that John’s mental health condition could affect alimony considerations. They prepare her for this aspect and assist in negotiating a fair spousal maintenance agreement that considers both parties’ needs and capabilities.
  5. Ensuring Compliance with Treatment: Finally, Sarah’s attorney helps draft an agreement that John will continue treatment for his depression as a condition for revisiting the terms of custody in the future.


In this hypothetical scenario, Sarah’s family law attorney played a crucial role in ensuring a fair divorce process that considered the challenges due to mental illness. This example illustrates how an attorney can help you make informed decisions, represent your interests effectively in court, and ensure the best outcome for all parties involved, especially when mental health is a complicating factor.


Divorce Attorneys in Phoenix AZ

Legal assistance is crucial in a divorce. Attorneys at the Law Office of Daniel Hutto, are here to provide you with the support and guidance you need, particularly in divorces involving mental illness.

For legal support, including cases involving mental health concerns, contact us today at 602-833-0986. Together, we can secure a fair and just resolution for you and your family.

Some of Our Real Client Reviews

Daniel was really great! I did not work work him directly but the work he’s done for my best friend and her daughter, we are so grateful for! He was really dedicated, always available when she needed him, professional and well prepared. He helped my best friend get primary custody of her daughter which is never an easy matter and he did advised well and knew his stuff. Thank you Daniel!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Savanah Linares (Review from Google)
Daniel and Shannon are some of the best lawyers out here. I came to them with a very complex and all over the place case. I have called a few other lawyers prior to retaining Daniel and those offices pretty much turned me away. As soon as I told Daniel about my case they acted quickly to assist and made such movement that took me months to do on my own. I truly felt that Shannon and Daniel took my case to heart and their passion about it was amazing. Thank you so much for your help and guidance. If anyone is looking for aggressive but very passionate lawyers you need to stop playing and retain the office of Daniel hutto..
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Anthony Wilson (Review from Google)
If I could rate this law office 100 stars I would. Daniel and his staff went above and beyond what they needed to do to help me with my case. They did it with the utmost professionalism and respect. I couldn't have asked for a better law office to represent me. I would highly recommend to anyone who needed an attorney.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Taylor Cochran (Review from Google)
Tried and proven! I highly recommend Daniel and his team for any international matters that you may need. Daniel is an AMAZING attorney and his professional service was simply awesome. Caring and a very knowledgeable attorney who keeps you involved during the entire process. He gave prompt replies, incredible legal knowledge, displayed a high level of professionalism, clear thorough advice and completed research to find the best winningest option for you! We won...Simply the BEST from start to finish!!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Philippa A. (Review from Avvo)

Daniel Ian Hutto

This website is for informational purposes only. Using this site or communicating with the Law Office of Daniel Hutto through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. This site is legal advertising.

© 2023 Law Office of Daniel Hutto, PLLC - All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy



Call Now ButtonCall Now - We're Available