The intricacies of divorce with a spouse on the autism spectrum

The intricacies of divorce with a spouse on the autism spectrum

When you first met your future spouse, you thought that their quiet nature and quirky ways were cute. In fact, you enjoyed being in a relationship with someone who was not a carbon copy of every partner with whom you had shared prior relationships.

But somewhere between the day you eloped and said your “I do’s” and now, those once-endearing quirks became quite exasperating. After the kids were born, your spouse’s inability to follow through on plans and show up on time for appointments was maddening. The worst part was that you got nowhere trying to communicate your frustration because they just shut down and entered their inner world.

Welcome to divorce with a neuro-atypical spouse

Now, perhaps more than ever before, your spouse’s non-neurotypical behavior patterns, actions and thought processes will present themselves as significant barriers to a civil divorce and friendly co-parenting relationship. In fact, these divorces are generally considered to be some of the most high-conflict cases possible.

Perception is not reality

When all the neurons in your brain are firing correctly, you can’t understand why your spouse on the spectrum repeatedly violates your boundaries. But they may be desperately trying to figure out what you are thinking or feeling when they hack into your email or listen in on your phone calls. The same neurological obstacles that prevent them from understanding why co-workers are upset with their brusque tones or laugh together in the breakroom prevent them from discerning the nature of your unhappiness with the marriage.

Learn to accommodate their condition in divorce

While their disability can’t be used to force you to remain together with them, it does mean that you may need to realign your co-parenting expectations for the sake of the children. In particularly serious cases, the spouse on the spectrum may need to turn to their mental health professional for tips on achieving the best possible post-divorce co-parenting relationship.

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