Child Custody Issues: What If a Parent has a Mental Illness?

Confused kid with a broken family paper due to child custody

It is no secret that mental illness could influence not only the individual suffering from it but their family and friends as well. This is especially true and unfortunate for those with children. Because of this, courts take mental illness extremely serious when they are deliberating on child custody cases.

The Child’s Best Interests and a Parent’s Mental Illness

While state law acknowledges the importance of both parents caring for their child and the parents’ legal right to care for their child without interference from the government, the court would always consider the best interest of the child regardless if one of both of the parents were mentally ill or not.

Other Factors to Consider

Although being a mentally ill parent usually a significant factor, other factors would also come into play, including the child’s relationship with the mentally ill parent as well as the proximity of each party’s home to the school and after-school activities of the child.

Safety of Child of Paramount Importance

However, take note that certain mental disorders could raise real concerns about the well-being or the safety of the child while in the custody of the mentally ill parent, explains a renowned child custody attorney here in Denver.

For example, if the parent has a history of violence or has violent tendencies due to the disorder, the court might rule in favor of the other parent and award the mentally ill parent visitation rights.

Court Takes Account of Treatment

Also, the severity and exact nature of the parent’s mental disorder could affect whether he or she can get child custody. For instance, if the parent is not capable of managing his or her own affairs or needs a guardian, the court will not grant him or her custody.

But the court also takes into account the parent’s efforts to get better, such that the court would be more inclined to consider awarding child custody if a bipolar parent goes to therapy regularly and takes prescribed medications.

Mental illness is a huge factor in child custody cases, but it is not the end all and be all. In the end, the court would still have the final say on which parent should get child custody.