Many adults in Texas are fighting mental health issues. Are you one of them? If you are, no matter how serious it may seem, if divorce is in your future, your mental illness may affect your child custody arrangements. Right or wrong, each party’s relative mental health can impact the outcome of a case.
Mental health issues range in severity. Some people find themselves dealing with depression and anxiety that they can control with medications, others on the far end of the spectrum may suffer a complete loss of reality, and then there are those in-between the two. At the end of the day, whether you get custody of your children depends on whether you are deemed fit to care for them. You may think you are, but your spouse may disagree.
What the courts will look at to determine if you are “fit” to parent
Your spouse may be using your mental illness against you in your divorce proceedings. As such, a judge won’t just take his or her word when it comes to determining if you are fit to parent. The courts will look at:
- Your diagnosis and how it has affected the children
- Your treatment, past and present
- Side effects of treatment historically
- If your diagnosis puts your children at risk of harm
At the end of the day, the custody arrangement ordered has to be one that serves the best interests of the kids. The courts will typically depend on experts’ recommendations to help it make the right decision for your family.
What are the odds you won’t get custody?
No one can say for sure. Every case is different. However, some experts have said that those with severe mental illness have a 70-80% chance of losing custody of their children. Of all children who have a parent with a significant mental illness, only one-third are being raised by that parent. On the other hand, those who are “high functioning” despite their mental health problems may not have an issue getting at least shared custody, provided that they follow the recommendations of their own mental-health expert advisors.
Fight for you and your kids
The state and your spouse cannot take your children away from you just because you have a mental illness. If you believe that your spouse is blowing your mental health problems out of proportion just to deny you custody, you can fight for yourself and your kids with help from an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney working in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County and surrounding areas of Texas. With the right assistance, you can achieve custody arrangements that genuinely serve your family’s best interests. If your mental health truly is a concern, with help you may still fight for visitation rights.