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How Does Mental Illness Impact Your Parental Rights?

young father showing something to his son at the lookout

A parent’s mental illness is taken into consideration when it comes to child custody, and a judge looks at various factors to determine if your mental illness will impact your custody. Parents who have difficulties with mental health often have issues with child custody schedules, especially at the beginning of the custody negotiations.

The goal of the court is to look out for the best interests of the children, which sometimes means limited access for a parent with mental health problems. Although, as the condition improves or specific arrangements are made, the parent who suffers from mental illness may have the opportunity for more access and time spent with children.

However, you may wonder what happens if your mental illness does not improve enough to see your children or, even worse, your parental rights are terminated. Here are some questions about mental illness and how it affects your parental rights.

Is Your Condition Temporary or Permanent?

The court will consider if your mental health condition is permanent or temporary. Some people are able to successfully treat a mental health condition with medication and therapy. Others do not respond well to treatment and suffer from issues for the rest of their lives.

If your condition is temporary or you respond well to treatment and you continue to seek treatment, your parental rights will likely stay intact. However, you may have to go through periodic reevaluations, particularly if your child’s other parent believes your condition affects the child.

Has the Child Been Removed From You in the Past?

If at any point your child was removed from your custody because of safety concerns stemming from your mental health condition, the judge can use the information as rationale for the termination of your parental rights. The circumstances surrounding the removal as well as the frequency is integral in the decision about your parental rights.

Are Treatment Attempts Useful to Maintain Parental Rights?

Whether or not continual attempts to seek treatment will help you maintain your parental rights depends on individual circumstances. Even if you appear to be seeking treatment and making an earnest effort to get better, the outcome is what will have an impact on the judge’s decision.

If you check yourself in for inpatient treatment for one month and still exhibit dangerous behaviors, a judge will likely not allow you access to your children. Just because you get treatment does not automatically mean you will receive custody of your children.

What Would Create Cause for Parental Rights Termination?

Although in only a few circumstances would a judge completely terminate your parental rights, it can happen as a last resort. Typically, a judge will exhaust every possibility to ensure the children have a continual relationship with both parents, even if the access requires supervision.

However, evidence of dangerous and ongoing mental health problems can have an impact on your ability to have a relationship with your kids. If a judge sees no other alternative and your children will experience harm while in your custody, your parental rights can be in jeopardy.

For this to happen, a persistent and pervasive record of incidents must indicate you’re unable to care for your children’s well-being. You need to have a significant history of issues for this situation to occur. If time with you creates emotional, mental, or physical dangers for your child or you demonstrate dangerous behavior, you might lose your rights.

If you have any questions about child custody issues or any family law matter, please contact us at C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC. We are happy to help you with your family law needs.

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