Diagnosed with mental illness? It can affect custody rights

| Dec 30, 2019 | Firm News

Auburn parents who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses may rightly be concerned that the custody of their children could be in jeopardy. Statistics indicate that in the United States, parents with mental illnesses have rates of losing custody of their children as high as 80%.

It is for this reason alone that many parents struggling with emotional and mental challenges forgo seeking the very treatment that could allow them to stabilize and retain custody of their children. They dread being labeled as a mentally unfit parent if they get diagnosed as psychologically or emotionally unsound.

The fear is real

Just a third of children who have parents suffering from serious mental illnesses are in the custody of those parents. So, you are not overly paranoid if you fear that you could lose custody of the kids.

The good news is that a mental illness diagnosis cannot be the sole reason for determining that a parent is unfit. However, the mental illnesses’ symptoms like hallucinations and, in some cases, even psychotropic drugs’ side effects can potentially render a parent unfit to have custody of their kids.

Not all mental illnesses are equal

There are many varieties and levels of mental illness. Few people would claim that a father or mother suffering from anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders pose the same potential dangers to children that unmedicated schizophrenic parents do. It could be possible, though, that the Xanax that a parent takes to manage their anxiety is being abused and leads to their being unable to properly supervise their kids.

Community support systems can help you retain custody

If you’re a parent who is struggling to maintain your mental health, all hope is not lost. By reaching out to an Auburn mental health provider, you can receive the help that you need to remain your children’s custodial parent. You can receive counseling and prescription medications that will help you stabilize your condition.

Often, there may be programs offered in your community that can provide you with additional support, e.g., groups like NA, AA and others. Availing yourself of these services may help you fight the battle and keep your kids.

Seek legal guidance in divorce, custody challenges

One of the most important things that you can do if you are living with a mental illness and going through divorce or custody battles is to seek qualified legal representation. This is important for a couple of reasons.

First, it puts an Auburn family law attorney at the helm of your custody or divorce case. This legal professional can work with you to devise a strategy that allows you to remain a meaningful, involved presence in your children’s lives.

Secondly, it takes the pressure off you to handle your legal case. Instead, you can devote all your energy to managing your own mental and emotional health. Remember, the courts cannot and will not remove your children from your care unless you show them by your (in)actions that you are unfit.