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Divorcing a Partner who has Borderline or any other Personality Disorder

Divorcing a Partner who has Borderline or any other Personality Disorder

When a relationship is ending it can bring out hostility and anger on both sides. Sometimes a family law office can help with divorce mediation, but in other cases mediation won't be effective. While some negative behaviors and comments may occur, there can be situations where one partner’s conduct is indicative of a deeper mental health issue. When you are divorcing an individual who has borderline or another personality disorder, their condition may intensify conflict and prolong the process.

Contact Waukesha family law attorney Karyn Youso for guidance in divorcing a partner with a personality disorder.


What is a Personality Disorder?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a personality disorder is a type of mental disorder which involves having a rigid and unhealthy thinking pattern and dysfunctional behavior. An individual with this type of condition typically has problems perceiving and relating to situations and other people. Often, this will cause significant problems with interpersonal relationships at work, home, and in school. The individual usually develops the condition in their teens or early adulthood and has difficulty recognizing that they share responsibility for their conflicts.

Borderline personality is a disorder which involves an individual having symptoms such as an unstable or fragile self-image, extreme and unpredictable mood changes, intense or chaotic relationships, manipulative and risky behaviors, extreme fear of being alone or abandoned, and episodic rage. Those with disorders such as narcissistic and anti-social personality typically are unable to empathize with others.

Leaving Someone with a Personality Disorder

While every situation is different, if you are dealing with someone who has a personality disorder which is not being treated, once you initiate the divorce you can expect that the stress of the situation will exacerbate some of their symptoms. If the individual has a borderline personality disorder for example, feelings of being abandoned by their spouse can be extremely triggering and may cause them to act out. This can include rage or manipulation. Symptoms of other types of disorders may be destructive and include retaliation. If your spouse has a personality disorder, a collaborative divorce probably won't be possible.

Maintain Boundaries

During a divorce, there will be numerous conversations and exchanges between you and your former partner. During each interaction, you will need to remain on your guard for manipulative or other dysfunctional behavior. By setting and maintaining boundaries, you can help protect yourself and your case. For example, your ex may ask you to come to their place to talk about the divorce with the true intent of trying to control or trick you. Insist that all communication go through your attorney or that you speak with them about non-case issues with a witness present and in a public place.

Getting out of a marriage with a partner who is suffering from a personality disorder can be a long road and often the other party will do everything they can to create chaos and drag the case out. By setting and keeping limits, you can help make the process easier.  You should also exercise self-care and attend to your own emotions during this difficult time.


Attorney Karyn Youso has extensive family law experience and understands the issues which can arise when a partner has a personality disorder. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to take a “first look” at your situation.

To learn more about Wisconsin divorce law, contact our family law office. Seek help from Karyn Youso, the family law attorney and mediator with over 27 years of experience.