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Going Through Divorce or Family Law Matters With Traumatic Brain Injury: What You Need to Know

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Divorce can be a difficult experience for anyone, but it can be even more challenging for people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI can cause a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional problems, which can make it difficult to cope with the stress and demands of divorce.

If you are going through divorce with TBI, there are a few things you need to know to protect your rights and interests.
  1. Understand your legal rights. People with TBI have the same legal rights as everyone else, including the right to a fair and just divorce or other family law matter. However, it is important to understand how your TBI may affect your ability to participate in the divorce process. For example, you may need additional time or support to gather and review documents, understand legal concepts, and communicate with your attorney.
  2. Get legal advice from an experienced attorney. It is important to work with an attorney who understands TBI and the unique challenges that people with TBI face during divorce. Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, develop a strategy for your divorce, and represent you in court. Your attorney will need to understand that meetings, deadlines and other things associated with their representation may take more time, more patience and more explanation than for people without a traumatic brain injury.
  3. Consider mediation. Mediation is a process of negotiation in which a neutral third party helps you and your spouse reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce. Mediation can be a good option for people with TBI, as it allows you to proceed at your own pace and in a controlled environment, without placing the outcome of the process in the hands of a judge. For many people, even if mediation takes a couple of sessions, it is a better outcome than going through a contested trial/litigation process.
  4. Be patient and understanding with yourself. Divorce and other family law matters are difficult experiences for anyone, but can be especially challenging for people with TBI. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your family, friends, and your support team. Many clients with a TBI elect to involve a trusted friend or family member to assist with organization, taking notes and providing documents in a timely fashion.
People with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at increased risk of victimization through the divorce process. This is due to a number of factors, including:
  • Cognitive impairments. TBI can cause a wide range of cognitive impairments, such as difficulty with memory, attention, and problem-solving. These impairments can make it difficult for people with TBI to understand and participate in the divorce process.
  • Emotional difficulties. TBI can also cause emotional difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. These difficulties can make it difficult for people with TBI to cope with the stress of divorce and to advocate for themselves.
  • Financial dependence. People with TBI may be financially dependent on their spouse or other caregivers, especially if their TBI has made it difficult or impossible for them to work. This financial dependence can make it difficult for people with TBI to leave an abusive relationship or to negotiate a fair settlement in their divorce.
Here are some specific ways that people with TBI can be victimized through the divorce process:
  • Coercion and undue influence. People with TBI may be coerced or unduly influenced by their spouse to agree to unfavorable terms in the divorce settlement. This may be done through threats, intimidation, or manipulation.
  • Financial exploitation. People with TBI may be financially exploited by their spouse during the divorce process. This may involve hiding assets, refusing to pay bills, or forging signatures.
  • Child custody. People with TBI may be disadvantaged in child custody disputes. Their spouse may use their TBI against them, arguing that they are not capable of caring for their children.
How can you get through your divorce with TBI? Here are some additional tips for going through divorce with TBI:
  • Get legal advice from an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can represent you in court.
  • Gather your medical records. Your medical records will provide evidence of your TBI and its severity. This evidence can be important in negotiating the terms of your divorce, such as alimony and child custody.
  • Keep a journal. A journal can help you track your progress, identify your needs, and document any challenges you face during the divorce process.
  • Get support from your family and friends. Your family and friends can provide emotional and practical support during this difficult time.
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself will help you cope with the stress of divorce and heal from your TBI.
If you are going through a divorce with TBI, remember that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you understand your legal rights, navigate the divorce process, and cope with the challenges you face. Please call Pingel Family Law and schedule your consultation today at (816) 208-8130.