With two reality shows based on hoarding, this age old problem is coming out in the open. It's estimated that 3 million people in the United States suffer from hoarding type issues. Even the DSM will be including hoarding in its own category this year.
In the last year, I have been called by two different lawyers. I have been asked to do a walk through of two different spaces and give my opinions. Both places were on the hoarding scale. In my opinion, both places were at a level two out of seven levels on the hoarding scale. In both situations, a divorce and custody were to be determined.
Heartbreaking but true, I see myself as a home fixer not a home wrecker. I felt horrible for days after on having to report my findings. This is not what I signed up to do.
Why you ask, did I choose to do these consultations? I chose to do it as education. I wanted to educate myself in case one of my clients found themselves in the same position. I wanted to be able to guide then on how to fix their home and what the lawyers considered to be issues that would effect custody.
In my research, I found a custody case from two years ago in Clark County, Nevada. The mother lost temporary custody due to the condition of her home. She was sited for such things as bugs, pet waste, and excessive debris. In the end, she moved into another home, got new furniture, and was ordered by the court to seek therapy for her "hoarding" issues.
If you or a loved one is in the same position, here is my advice to you:
1. The judge in the above case based a lot of his opinion on the pictures of the home. The home needs to be visually clean. Minimal clutter is okay.
2. Form a game plan. Go room by room and decide what needs to be done. Type up a plan. You make be asked to submit it in court.
3. Start purging. Enlist the aid of friends, family, and a professional organizer if needed.
4. Set goals and deadlines for yourself. Its better to get your home cleaned up before you are ordered to.
In closing, this was not something I was happy to have to deal with. Be prepared and protect yourself.