It is not uncommon during a divorce for there to be feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, and a sense of loss. While the legal case is moving forward, the emotional side may also be taking its toll.   As family law lawyers we are often asked how taking certain medications may affect your case, especially if there are high conflict custody issues involved. The following are three questions that often arise in such cases:

  1. I am so depressed about my divorce that I’m having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning to care for my children. What should I do?

See your health care provider. Feelings of depression are common during a divorce. You also want to make sure that you identify any physical health concerns. Although feelings of sadness are common during a divorce, more serious depression means it’s time to seek professional support.

Your health and your ability to care for your children are both essential. Follow through on recommendations by your health care professionals for therapy, medication, or other measures to improve your wellness. Share your health concerns with your lawyer as well so that your case can be managed in a way that does not cause you unnecessary stress.

  1. Will taking prescribed medication to help treat my insomnia and depression hurt my case?

Not necessarily. Talk to your health care professional and follow their recommendations. Taking care of your health is of the utmost importance during this difficult time, and will serve your best interests as well as the best interests of your children. Inform your attorney of any medications that you are taking or treatment that you are seeking. It is not the taking of medication that usually hurts your case, it is the failure to recognize the issues, follow a prescribed regiment and get the emotional help and treatment that is needed so that you can be the very best parent you can be for both you and your children.

  1. I know I need help to cope with the stress of the divorce, but I can’t afford counseling. What can I do?

 You are wise to recognize that divorce is a time for letting in support. You can explore a number of options, including:

  • Meeting with a member of the clergy or lay chaplain
  • Joining a divorce support group
  • Turning to friends and family members
  • Going to a therapist or divorce coach. If budget is a concern, contact a social agency that offers counseling services on a sliding fee scale.

Additionally, there are several resources that should be consulted to help determine if free counseling is available to you. Talk to your lawyer for recommendations and assistance in putting you in touch with the various services available.


About the Authors:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.

Bob Schwartz is a Member in our Phoenix office. Bob has been practicing law for over 40 years, specializing in family law. He is a member of the American, Arizona and Maricopa County Bar Associations. He is admitted to practice in the federal courts of New York, Arizona, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Schwartz is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and past president of the Arizona chapter. He serves as a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family court matters. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona; is a frequent lecturer on family law and related matters; and, former member of the State Bar Family Law Advisory Commission. Mr. Schwartz has tried numerous complex business valuation cases as well as complex custody cases. He has testified as an expert in family law matters. Bob co-authored the Divorce in Arizona book. He may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5020.