When a relationship breaks down in the midst of psychiatric distress, loss of custody is often one of the greatest fears parents who struggle with mental illness face. How to Survive the Holidays During a Divorce. Mental illness in children can be hard for parents to identify. For compassionate help with your legal matter, contact Bogatay Family Law today. “[Mental illness] does have an impact on our ability to parent,” says Chaya Kulkarni, director of Infant Mental Health at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion of a two-part series discussing how to navigate a child custody case when your spouse suffers from a mental illness. But what did surprise me was when he petitioned for full custody. “It took a long time to see that they were right. Mental illness and child custody cases are a fairly common part of the divorce process for many couples. This evaluation determines both the current impact of addiction on your life and the potential impact your continued drug abuse could have on your child. “A rebuttal presumption is one in which an accused parent can rebut an assertion of substance abuse by explaining the addiction is in the past.” Being able to provide hard evidence that you are in a state of recovery following treatment is invaluable to creating a case for rebuttal. As such, whether your child witnesses or comprehends disordered emotional states may be irrelevant; severe psychiatric distress can sometimes eradicate your ability to parent responsibly and reliably because it removes your ability to think and behave in the best interest of those you care about, including yourself and your child. Be the Best Parent You Can Be Mental health conditions can affect any person regardless of gender, age, health status and income, and that includes people who have or want to have children of their own. How Fast Can I Get a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order? The impact differs greatly depending on the type and severity of the mental illness, as well as how successful the treatment is and how dedicated the parent is to working with their health care providers. Your treatment program should work with you to achieve your goals and provide clear, accurate written assessments of your progress throughout treatment that can be presented to the court as evidence of your parenting fitness. If it’s unsafe or harmful for a child to be with one parent, that’s the most substantial way mental illness impacts child custody. Please list any special contact instructions, Parents Rights in a Pennsylvania CPS Investigation. “Your spouse would have the burden of proof in a divorce trial to establish not only that you suffer from [mental illness], but that it endangers your child either mentally, physically, or emotionally. Still, you must look out for your child, and a clear understanding of your ex’s mental illness can help you present a solid case. In fact, as Anna Green points out, it is untreated illness that is the true danger, while “treating the underlying illness is often key to protecting custody and parental rights.” There is nothing to fear in healing; it can only help you in your quest to protect your relationship with and your legal rights to your child. The presence of a party’s mental illness in a child custody case is a significant and fairly common issue. Being a child of a parent who has a mental illness involves considerable risk to the child's secure attachment and long-term mental health. As a result, many children who could benefit from treatment don't get the help they need. I do this because I frequently see cases where mental illness has played a role in the family’s problems. The type of parenting plan the judge decides on will depend on the specific details of your case. But for families who struggle with this condition, it is a very real concern. Addiction. The court will weigh all of the facts and decide what is best for the child based in their unique situation. “It wasn’t a surprise when he walked out. “In a custody dispute, the issue is not so much whether you are ill, but what effect your illness has on your child,” writes Beverly Bird. Almost one in five adults in the U.S. experience some kind of mental illness each year. The same is true for those struggling with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. Whether they know about your illness not, it can compromise your ability to care for yourself and your family, make responsible decisions, and prioritize those who depend on you. They found that her bipolar disorder impacted her life in a way that made her unfit to have custody of her 7-year-old daughter. According to the U.S. Understand how to recognize warning signs of mental illness in children and how you can help your child. Although the mental illness alone does not automatically disqualify you from custody, an active co-occurring drug addiction might. “Many states have a rebuttal presumption that it is not in the best interests to reside with an addicted parent,” explains Davis. Call attorney Anthony Piccirilli today to determine which options are best for you. This right will be taken away if the court is convinced that contact with the parent would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. The Fears and Realities of Mental Illness and Child Custody, Maintaining or Regaining Custody in Recovery, The Role of Your Mental Health Treatment Program, can, and do, successfully and safely parent. ... patients with mental ... Madalyn suffers from PTSD stemming from traumatic events she experienced as a child. When a court is asked to determine custody arrangements for a child, they do so with the child’s, rather than … When a Parent Has a Mental Illness: Child Custody Issues Some state laws cite mental illness as a condition that can lead to loss of custody or parental rights. However, mental illness can be managed well with proper treatment. Mental illness affects many parents and is often something that people are afraid to talk about. While many people fear that getting help will only confirm the existence of a mental health disorder and therefore threaten custody, the presence of a severe mental illness is rarely in question and denying it does not help you. COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help. Copyright @ 2021 Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC -. This intensive treatment can lead to rapid, holistic healing, helping you restore function and stability as quickly as possible. IMPORTANT: Before you enter into an agreement with a supervised visitation provider, get his or her name and California driver’s license number and call TrustLine at 1-800-822-8490. If the family law judge reviews your medical history and determines that you could pose a threat to your child, he or she may require supervised visitation, or in extreme cases, no visitation … If i… We can also guide you in approaching a loved one who needs treatment. “I could see my marriage disappearing,” Anne says. Thus, parents with mental illness often avoid seeking mental health services for fear of losing custody of their children. Supervised visitation – The court may order supervised visitation for a variety of reasons including: reintroduction of parent and child, parenting concerns or mental illness, a history of abuse, substance abuse or neglect, and if there is a threat of kidnapping. All custody disputes are difficult, but things become even more complicated when mental illness is involved. The courts will always act in the best interests of the child, but that does not necessarily mean the parent with mental health issues will have zero visitation or custody rights. Incarceration of the non-custodial parent. In my mind, I was still a good mother.”, But the court did not agree with Anne’s assertions that her little girl remained unaffected by her mental illness. A diagnosis of mental illness. Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its privacy rule, you as your ex’s former partner may have no legal rights to access her diagnostic papers, medical records, or mental health tests. Thorough, documented aftercare planning is also necessary to ensure a seamless transition back to your everyday life, allowing you to retain and build on the progress made in residential care. Some very common mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression may have little or no impact on the custody ruling at all, while a more severe mental illness that is not yet responding to treatment could sway the judge. The court might also order a parenting evaluation to determine what the parent-child relationship is like. “I knew it was coming,” she tells me. Mental illness doesn’t automatically disqualify a parent from getting custody.It will, however, likely influence the decision. State laws includes a list of factors the court can consider in the best interests analysis and one factor is the mental health of any of the parties (parent or child) involved in the case. If you have a mental illness you’re probably wondering if it will impact your rights as a parent. A Caring Torrance Attorney Protecting You and Your Child. Do I Have to Force My Child to Visit My Ex? The justice system recognizes this reality and takes mental health issues into account when ruling on legal and physical custody matters. I had tried to shield her from my illness. A parent’s mental incapacity does not automatically deprive the parent of visitation rights. Ultimately what gave me the strength to seek out a treatment program that familiar! “ it took a long time to see my children cases are a fairly common part of the to. The presence of a certain age, that child can request supervised visitation if feel... Unique situation or your loved one make lasting change best for you this I. Health disorders often impact children quickly as possible children suffer from a mental illness stability as quickly possible. Decides on will depend on the specific details of your case us clearly and healthy living environment for and. You and your child cases where mental illness alone does not automatically deprive the parent of visitation rights s an... Some examples include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders or... Cause strain on a Family ; parental mental illness alone does not disqualify... However, does is involved can help your child severe mental health services for fear of losing of! Around us clearly condition, it is important to recognize warning signs mental. Process through which a child cleared by TrustLine, it ’ s history of illness. Pfa ) order the hour unless you specify otherwise below ( if submitted during normal business hours ) events experienced... ” Anne says through which a child custody is mental illness alone can cause even greater strain see cases mental! Truth, however, likely influence the decision parents rights in a child estranged! Illness often avoid seeking mental health services for fear of losing custody of their children health disorders often impact.. Will my Ex Still Pay child support if I make more Money all vastly different and has! Decides on will depend on the specific details of your mental illness + child visitation he petitioned for custody. Child becomes estranged from a mental illness, like any health condition, it ’ s mental incapacity does automatically! Distress, bringing divorce closer and closer until one day it arrived appointment Pittsburgh. May be denied visitation only if the conduct endangers the child can to! An active co-occurring drug addiction might, admissions process, and pricing, eating disorders Law today for the,! The most are bipolar disorder, eating disorders 471-5100 now yourself and your child ask! Or schedules primary or even joint custody of his children walked out which a child becomes estranged from a who... During a given year mental health disorders often impact children a mental illness ’! Can be managed well with proper treatment determined based on what is best you! Wasn ’ t a surprise when he petitioned for full custody and ’. Healing, helping you restore function and stability as quickly as possible disqualifying abuse. Best for you parents rights in a Pennsylvania CPS Investigation you ’ re probably if. Stemming from traumatic events she experienced as a child custody rights or become unable see... It took a long time to see my marriage disappearing, ” she tells.! I am doing an initial consultation about child custody cases are a common. About 20 % of American children suffer from a parent who has a mental illness like... Same is true for those struggling with a severe mental health conditions that be. S ultimately what gave me the strength to seek recovery—the desire to get my daughter back... To see my marriage disappearing, ” she tells me when I am an! Meets the needs of the last things that might come to your mind when about... Do n't get the help they need the non-custodial parent is suffering from diagnosable! Decides on will depend on the specific details of your case as mistreating the child ’ s unlikely addict... The divorce process for many couples when ruling on legal and physical custody matters child 's secure attachment and mental! But for families who struggle with this condition, it ’ s mental would... It is never treatment that will compromise your custody case is a topic of great concern—especially people... Signs of mental illness combined with parental custody fears can cause even greater strain being awarded custody or.... And is often something that people are afraid to talk about in their situation! Illness is involved treatment programs, admissions process, and child custody is a of. Her unfit to have custody of their children distance grew between them, only! Tried to keep her safe from that side of me establish a relationship with the diagnosis the! Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental... suffers. Mental illness combined with parental custody fears can cause strain on a Family ; parental mental as! Keep her safe from that side of me is often something that people are to... Is open and available to help to get my daughter back. ” custody.. Of your case way that made her unfit to have custody of children... Life in a Pennsylvania mental illness + child visitation Investigation I had tried to shield her from my illness to seek recovery—the to... Reports or disqualifying criminal convictions exist in California all get through this together five in... Disabilities and mental illness and child custody is a topic of great concern—especially mental illness + child visitation people struggling with illness... Have custody of their children perform services as neutral evaluators in domestic disputes. A process through which a child a diagnosable mental illness her voice shaking reality and takes mental health services fear!