Numerous factors can affect how child custody arrangements will work out following a divorce. Texas courts will want to know who has been the primary caregiver, if children have any special needs, what living arrangements are available and what the parent-child relationship is like — among other factors — before issuing a final custody ruling. Your mental health is one aspect that you may not consider an issue that could affect your custody plan, but the court might disagree.
Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness. So many fail to seek treatment, though, because of the stigma attached to having this kind of medical diagnosis and the fear of how it will affect their families. With the right treatment, many mental illness sufferers can go on to live fully productive lives.
How can mental health affect child custody?
If a mental illness affects your ability to take care of yourself and perform typical daily tasks, the court is not going to feel confident leaving your children in your care. It is just that simple. If your spouse is hoping to deny you custody, bringing up your mental illness can certainly work in his or her favor.
If your mental health status comes into question during a child custody hearing, you may be able to help your case by giving information about any treatment you are currently receiving. A judge will want to know:
- What exactly is being done to treat the illness
- If treatment has any negative side effects
- If, even with treatment, your children are at risk of being injured in your care
People do lose custody of their children if their mental illnesses are bad enough or are not being appropriately addressed. That does not mean it happens in every case, and just claiming a spouse has mental health issues is not enough for a judge to deny custody. In addition, in some cases, both parents may have diagnosed mental-health disorders.
If you have mental health concerns that you fear your spouse will try to use against you, the time to get medical help is now. If you put off treatment, a judge may have a hard time granting a fair child custody arrangement. If you are being treated with positive results and your soon-to-be ex still claims that your mental health status is a concern, with the assistance of legal counsel from an experienced Board-certified family law expert attorney in Collin County, Denton County or elsewhere throughout Texas, you can provide evidence to the court that you are fit to have some level of custody.