Addressing personality disorders: Take your divorce/custody case out of court

Dana McKeeBy Dana McKee

As divorce attorneys, we often hear our clients state that their spouse is a “narcissus” or has a “borderline personality disorder.”  In a few instances, the spouse has actually been diagnosed with such a condition by a psychiatrist.  However, far too often our clients’ belief is based on passing comments from their own therapists or articles they have read.

According to medical professionals, a narcissistic personality disorder or a borderline personality disorder is relatively rare.  The National Institute of Mental Health estimates only 1.4% of the adult U.S. population suffers from borderline personality disorder.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 5% of the general population exhibits the level of narcissism necessary to be diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder.

Although these personality disorders may be rare, family law attorneys far too often encounter individuals in divorce or custody matters that exhibit characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder or a borderline personality disorder.  Regardless of whether narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder is an accurate diagnosis of a client or their spouse, psychological concerns are sensitive matters. We understand that those cases may not be easily resolved.

In situations like these, the courtroom may not be the best option for all parties affected in the divorce proceedings.

Divorce and custody cases where one or both of the parties suffer from mental illness may benefit from the Collaborative Law process rather than standard litigation. Collaborative Law recognizes the deep-seated emotions and sensitivities that exist in each case, many of which cannot be solved effectively within a courtroom. These issues extend beyond financial gain and division of assets. Often, Collaborative Law provides a space to bring sensitive psychological concerns to the table and utilize a team of professionals to help resolve them.

In the Collaborative Law process, the parties do not go to court. The goal is to problem solve and determine the best course of action without the need for often damaging and litigious court room disputes. Even if the more traditional litigation or mediation route is pursued, different strategies may need to be employed to resolve the matter without a trial.

Dana McKee has experience in handling these difficult and complex cases.  She is formally trained in Collaborative Law and regularly takes continuing legal education courses in mental health issues that pertain to divorce, custody, and litigation strategies.  Her broad experience allows her to be sensitive to the family dynamics without compromising her abilities to obtain results for her clients.

Dana chairs the family law practice at Brown Goldstein & Levy, a nationally recognized firm bringing decades of passionate, effective advocacy to the fight for justice across the legal spectrum. She provides the highest-caliber legal services that bring each and every one of her client’s voices centerstage.

If you have a divorce or custody case that needs a family law attorney with proven experience dealing with difficult and complex cases, call Dana McKee at (410) 962-1030 for a consultation.

Authored by

Dana McKee Partner