How a History of Mental Illness Impacts San Diego Child Custody Cases
This is the next post in my series discussing how one’s difficult past can impact their San Diego child custody case and how they may deal with the issue. My last post discussed how a past criminal conviction may negatively impact a person’s attempt to win joint custody. In this article I will be explaining why a history of mental illness may or may not affect child custody depending on the situation. If you are a San Diego, California parent then you should contact an attorney immediately for custody cases involving mental illness.
A California parent’s mental illness will impact child custody if the parent currently displays signs of instability
Mental illness is a sensitive topic and California Courts are compassionate towards those parents who struggle with such issues. It is, however, also the San Diego Family Court’s duty to protect the safety and welfare of children. This requires that Family Court Judge’s often walk a fine line. If a parent has a history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, that in itself is not enough to make the Court question joint child custody. If, however, the parent has a history of abusing or neglecting their child as a result of mental illness then things get a little more complicated.
Many of mental illness’ side effects make it difficult to take care of children. Parents who suffer from depression often have trouble maintaining their own hygiene or getting out of bed. The children’s well-being may suffer as a result. If one parent has a history of mental illness, and the other parent accuses them of being an unfit parent due to mental health struggles, then the Court will look at a number of factors. First, the Judge may require that the parent release medical records and provide evidence that they are actively seeking treatment for their condition. The Court will also take into account if Child Protective Services has ever been called against the parent, and if so, whether or not the parent addressed agency concerns. A Judge may also look at the parent’s overall current functioning, consider if they are employed and are able to hold a job, take into account their hygiene, and may even order a psychologist to perform a custody evaluation. A California parent will likely not be penalized for a history of mental illness as long as the are currently capable of performing all parental duties.
San Diego parents who are currently unstable may revisit child custody following mental health treatment
It must be understood that it is not meant to be a punishment when a parent is denied joint custody due to a mental illness. Such a denial is not often a permanent arrangement. When a parent displays signs of instability due to neglecting their health or because of stress then a Court will often reconsider custody arrangements once a parent has sought appropriate mental health treatment. Legal battles are stressful as is raising children as a single parent. Situations may be difficult to deal with for those who are sensitive to stress. However, the Court supports parents who actively seek help. They will be open to giving a parent more parental responsibility in the future once they demonstrate that they have made their mental health a priority.
If you have a history of mental illness and are concerned that it may hurt your child custody case then you need an attorney who understands the legal issues. Call our San Diego child custody lawyers today to schedule a consultation.