Before practicing law, I worked in the mental health field for many years. Mental health conditions can be debilitating and severe. Untreated mental health issues can be particularly bad.
Mental health and divorce are unfortunately not an uncommon combination. The stress of divorce can worsen mental health symptoms. Mental health issues can impact divorce proceedings in multiple ways. The following are some examples.
Mental Health and Child Custody
Judges evaluate the best interests of a child. The custody statute highlights twelve factors a court must consider. One of the twelve factors includes the mental health of the parents.
In order to count against a parent, a parent’s mental health issue must work against the best interests of the child. The mere presence of a mental health issue is not enough to influence the custody analysis.
If a parent has a mental health issue, it’s important to demonstrate that it’s being taken seriously and treated. This can include individual or group therapy. It also may include prescription medications under the supervision of a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
It’s important for a parent to demonstrate what he or she is doing regularly to keep his or her mental health stable. If a parent shows a pattern of inability to control mental health symptoms, this can count against that parent in a child custody dispute.
A parent’s mental health issues may be disabling. This can impact that parent’s ability to find employment. Parental income influences child support calculations.
In some divorces and custody matters, parents argue over whether and to what extent a parent with a mental health issue can earn income for the purpose of providing child support to the other parent. Experts, like doctors or vocational evaluators, may be necessary to assist the court with these decisions.
Similar to child support, mental health issues may also impact a spouse’s ability to work. In such a case, especially if the other spouse is earning a healthy income and the marriage is long-term, the spouse with the mental health condition may have an argument for receiving spousal maintenance in a divorce. As in the child support situation, experts are often needed in these spousal maintenance disputes.
For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page. For Court rules, please click here.