We’re still learning about borderline personality disorder and how that can affect people in all aspects of their lives. For instance, there’s a Psychology Today article from July 2018 that posits that it might be more fluid and maybe not as much of an intractable disorder as we thought it was. For people living with that disorder, and the people living with people with disorder, that could be encouraging if that continues to bear out.
But as I know all too well from cases over the years, this can be a particularly impactful condition affecting marriages, leading to divorce, and then affecting the divorced parents in their efforts to raise their children. A person with borderline personality disorder has issues that are often times challenging for that person to change, sometimes at no fault of that person. That can result in harmful behaviors that impact parenting, as well as harmful behaviors that a child might learn from and then have to unlearn.
If you need to modify your divorce decree because of a partner who has borderline personality disorder — or, really, any mental condition that affects how a person parents — know that it can be done. While judges are normally extremely unwilling to take away a person’s parenting rights altogether, they’re also first and foremost concerned about the welfare of the children. If there are mental issues that impacts how a person parents or how a person interacts with the other parent, it’s definitely something that can be addressed in modification.
As with anything regarding divorce or modification, any documentation you can share with your lawyer can be helpful to your case. Your lawyer will be able to determine what is and what isn’t admissible, but even information that’s not admissible can still inform your lawyer and can help shape the legal strategy even if it’s not specifically used.
The most important thing you can do while your case is being modified is to do what you can to offset whatever negatives are happening as a result of the other parent’s behavior. Take a team perspective, with anyone else in your child’s life who has a supervisory role, like grandparents, teachers, and coaches providing positive influence and reinforcing what you want to teach.
It’s not something you’ll be able to do immediately or instantly, but it is something that done over time, with commitment, will help your children. It will also make you feel that you’re more empowered. These are situations where you can feel like there’s not much you can do, and yet you can by sticking to your principles and getting your support system on the same page.