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Does mental illness play a role in child custody?

When divorcing parents are being examined by the family court for custody purposes, they may feel as though their decision making, privacy and intellect are being picked apart. In the event that the mental health of one parent is in question, these feelings may be even more intense. And as much as the parent in question may feel violated by being scrutinized for their mental health, it is unfortunately the family court's right to consider all aspects of a parent's life when determining custody.

The family court has always and will likely continue to always award custody based on a child's best interests. Even though maximizing the time spent with each parent is generally in their best interest, any potential that either parent has to negatively impact their child is taken into account.

Sometimes accusations of a mental illness are simply tactics used by one angry spouse to get to the other. When this happens, the family court is usually pretty good at identifying and disregarding slanderous and untrue allegations. However, occasionally a parent does have a history of mental illness or the other parent's concern is validated in some way. This may lead the family court to take a closer look at the situation.

The family court determines child custody on what is best for the child. When considering a child's best interests, a vast array of issues are taken into account. The physical and mental health of both parents is one of the issues weighed to make that determination.

When trying to prove or defend against what is believed to be a mental illness, parents can benefit by speaking to their attorneys first. Usually there are methods and protocols for these types of child custody issues. Whether a mental evaluation is needed or a medical professional is willing to testify on a parent's behalf, a family law attorney will know what steps are necessary when dealing with these concerns.

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