How Mental Illness Can Affect Custody in Divorce

Parents with mental illness and child custody issues are common in family law cases. Mental illness is suffered by many, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or another condition. Not only can it lead to divorce, but it can also impact your child custody.

 

If you have questions about your specific situation in a family law matter, contact Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at (559) 222-4891.

 

Factors in Determining Child Custody

 

Mental illness is a factor considered by the court during hearings for child custody and visitation. If a parent is unable to care for their children, the court may not be inclined to award physical or legal custody to that parent or visitation may be limited. However, this should not scare parents who do have mental illness issues. The court will carefully evaluate every situation individually and do what is in the best interests of the child.

 

Other factors that the court will consider that are related to mental illness include:

 

  • The ability of each parent to provide food, clothing, and other necessities to the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide love and discipline to the child
  • School and community records
  • The physical health of each parent
  • The relationships between the child and each parent
  • The child’s wishes, if the child is of an age where they can form an opinion
  • History of domestic abuse
  • Wishes of each parent

 

The court may also consider other factors that it believes are important to the case.

 

When Mental Health Is an Issue

 

The court will consider mental illness as it would any other factor when determining child custody and visitation. A final decision will be made based on the severity of diagnosis and confirmed mental illness. In order to do this, the court may need access to a parent’s mental health records and treatment records from their doctors and any facilities in which they have been treated. The court can order you to release these records. If you do not, you may risk losing custody of your child or having limitations put on your visitation rights.

 

Mental Illness and Physical Custody

 

Physical custody of a child involves time actually spent with the parent. When a parent has physical custody of a child, they provide for the daily needs of a child, including a home. If a parent is so mentally ill that they cannot provide a safe home for their child, they may not be awarded physical custody.

 

Mental illness can also result in violent outbursts, abandonment of a child, drug use, and other issues. If these are factors in the child’s life, then the court will likely remove physical custody.

 

Mental Illness and Legal Custody

 

Legal custody gives a parent the rights to make decisions about how the child will live their live, including educational, medical, and religious decisions. The court often favors shared legal custody so that both parents influence a child’s life. The court would likely only remove legal custody if a parent is not mentally able to make decisions about their own life as well.

 

Mental illness can also cause a person to be argumentative. If the parents are unable to come to agreements, then the court may limit one parent’s legal custody.

 

Call a Child Custody Lawyer for Help

 

If you are dealing with a difficult situation involving parents with mental illness and child custody issues, you need an attorney to work out the details. Call Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at (559) 222-4891.

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