Going through a divorce is tough, especially when kids are involved. Some parents worry if mental health issues will affect child custody decisions when they go to court.
First, let’s note that it is okay to talk about mental health. If you have mental health challenges, it is important to have compassion for yourself. Don’t forget to mention it to your attorney in case it comes up in court later; it can be helpful in proactively developing an overall strategy.
Mental health issues are common
Lots of people deal with mental health challenges. 1 in 5 Americans live with some form of mental illness. If this comes up in your case, you are not alone, and there are resources to help.
If you are concerned about child custody, keep in mind that the court’s focus is to make sure that children are safe and happy.
If mental health is an issue in a child custody case, the court wants to understand how it might affect the children. The court’s primary aim is not to take the children away, limit parenting time, or dictate how parents should raise their children.
The court’s purpose in child custody cases is to ensure parents meet their kids’ needs physically, mentally and emotionally, and that the children thrive in a secure, stable and loving environment.
Key factors the court may examine
- Evidence of parenting abilities
- Children’s safety and security
- Parents’ presence in their children’s lives
- Consistency in the children’s day-to-day
If you struggle with mental health, the best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to get help and treat it. Nowadays, mental health is losing its stigma because it touches so many people in one way or another.
Things you can do
If you are concerned about mental health issues affecting child custody, ensure you seek treatment, can provide proof that you are undergoing treatment, and can provide a stable, secure, and caring environment for your child.
In addition, it does not hurt to let the court know that you want to because you genuinely want to spend time with your child.
Remember, mental health challenges do not mean you will automatically lose custody of your children. It is simply one factor that the court will want to consider in order to get a full picture of your abilities as a parent.