Mental illness and child custody: What to know

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2021 | Child Custody, Divorce |

Divorce is always difficult when you have children with your spouse. It can be even more complex if a parent has a mental illness.

Although a mental health condition can affect a custody decision, a judge considers many variables.

Courts base parenting time on your child’s best interests

Custody determinations depend on each parent’s ability to care for the children. Ultimately, the courts look at the person more than the mental illness itself.

If a condition negatively affects someone’s parenting ability or causes harm to the children, it is relevant to your case. The court considers factors, such as:

  • Each spouse’s history of caring for the children
  • Each parent’s relationship with the children
  • Any history of child abuse or domestic violence
  • The treatment efforts of the parent with a mental health condition
  • The level of mental health care required for the parent
  • The potential for the children to suffer physical or emotional harm

The law seeks to maintain children’s bond with both parents

The state aims to protect your children’s physical and emotional health by allowing them access to both parents whenever possible. Agreements address both legal and physical custody. When there is proof that a parent may endanger a child’s welfare, it can affect the physical custody arrangement. For example, a parent may have scheduled parenting visits to maintain a relationship with the children.

Legal custody refers to deciding health care, education and other significant issues for your children. A mental illness may be relevant to your legal custody arrangement if it affects a person’s ability to make sound financial and medical decisions.

Mental health conditions do not inherently affect your custody case. Your parenting arrangement depends on the specifics of your situation and each spouse’s ability to provide essential care for the children.