Massachusetts Legal Blog

Mental Illness and Child Custody in Divorce

Divorce is a stressful process to be endured by all parties to the process. The process is further complicated when one of the parties has mental health issues. When children were produced during the marriage, the issue of mental illness and parenting comes to the forefront of the marriage dissolution procedure. While mental illness is a problem which affects millions of Americans, it presents special challenges when mental illness and child custody issues arise. The law recognizes that a parent who suffers from any type of mental illness could have a negative impact on the children in the family.

Mental Illness and Parenting

The general heading of mental illness stretches from mild depression on one end of the spectrum to diagnoses such as bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia on the other. When looking at the issue of mental illness and parenting, the law starts by seeing which parent is suffering from the issue and the severity of it. The presence of mental illness in either or both parents likely had an impact on why the marriage was not successful. That being said, mental illness in divorce focuses on the well-being of the children, and court decisions on custody and visitation will focus on that issue.  

Mental Illness and Divorce

Although it is a delicate issue, when dealing with mental illness and divorce, the extent of the problem for the afflicted parent is relevant and must be dealt with properly. Mental illness itself can be a valid ground for divorce if it is considered a permanent psychological disorder. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia usually fall into this category. If your spouse suffers from those conditions, you no doubt have had a plethora of issues to deal with in maintaining your household and the mental health and wellbeing of yourself and your children. A consultation with a divorce lawyer would be suggested to ensure a divorce decree that protects both yourself and your children.

Mental Illness and Child Custody

When dealing with issues related to mental illness and child custody, the law and the courts look at how the afflicted parent’s mental illness affects their behavior and ability to properly interact with and care for the children. While some parents diagnosed with bipolar disease or schizophrenia may be homeless, others who get proper treatment and medications can be good parents. These issues will affect both child custody and visitation rights. In some cases, court-supervised limited visitation may be permitted. While diagnoses themselves are made by psychologists and psychiatrists, you should seek out a family law expert to get answers to your questions regarding mental illness and child custody in divorce.

Consult a Family Law Attorney at the Shapiro Law Group

Mental illness and divorce present a multitude of legal issues that need to be reviewed prior to going to court. Regardless of the severity of the problem, mental illness is serious business. Your family law attorney at the Shapiro Law Group can help.  Consult with one of our family law attorneys to help you sort through the plethora of factors that need to be reviewed. Call us today for a free consultation at 339-298-2300.