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The role mental illness plays in child custody determinations

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

During the custody determination portion of the divorce, the court decides who should have custody of the couple’s children. To accomplish this, they scrutinize several factors that influence each parent’s ability to take care of their children. One of these factors is the mental health of the parents.

Mental illness and child custody

Courts primarily consider the children’s best interests when identifying a suitable custodian. Although they will investigate each parent’s mental health, they will also consider other factors when determining each party’s fitness as a parent. For instance, they may examine the following:

  • Financial capability
  • Relationship with your child
  • Living situation

If mental illness doesn’t prevent the parent from providing a safe and stable environment for the children, the court may still consider the parent a capable custodian.

When mental illness becomes an issue

A judge may hesitate to grant custody if the mental illness or its treatment prevents the parent from providing adequate care or poses danger to the child or parent. For example:

  • Unpredictable and disruptive emotional outbursts
  • Behavior that’s harmful
  • An inability to care for one’s self
  • The condition results in neglect of the children
  • The need for extended hospitalization
  • Use of medications that cause concerning side effects, such as near-constant drowsiness

The judge may also consider other factors to determine an appropriate parenting plan, such as the willingness to receive treatment and how the parent responds to medical intervention.

Child custody is a delicate matter, especially when it involves mental health. Seeking expert assistance for both can help ensure the best outcomes for all involved.