Child custody proceedings are complex and often emotionally charged. In these types of cases, judges have a duty to protect the minor children involved, which means assessing what kind of parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
Many factors go into the judge’s assessment, and parental mental health is one issue that the court considers when determining the best arrangement for your
Can Parental Mental Health Cause Custody Issues?
The mental health of a parent can cause custody issues, but there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to mental health and child custody.
First and foremost, the New Jersey courts make custody decisions based on several of the following factors:
- Parents’ ability to communicate and agree on topics relating to the child
- History of domestic violence or abuse
- Safety of the child
- Stability of the home
- Whether the parents are fit to raise the child
According to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, the court prefers to enact custody agreements that allow the child to continue a relationship with both parents unless extenuating circumstances are present.
How Does the Court Examine Parental Mental Health?
If you or your child’s other parent is dealing with a mental health issue, the court will assess the situation to determine whether it has any bearing on the type of custody awarded. The court typically examines the following regarding the parent who has mental health challenges:
- Whether they have a history of hospitalization
- If they are complying with treatment
- The nature of the mental health challenges
- How their mental health affects the home environment
- Whether their mental health prevents them from caring for the child physically and emotionally
- Recommendations from counselors or other mental health providers that have worked with the parent
- Findings from court-appointed case evaluators or Guardian Ad Litems who have observed the parent with the child
If you are struggling with your mental health, these criteria may give you an idea of what the court will look at regarding your ability to parent. For example, if you struggle with anxiety and see a therapist or have a bipolar diagnosis but are under treatment and on medication, your mental health may not affect your custody as intensely as if you have a history of violence or a severe mood disorder that requires frequent hospitalization.
Mental Health Challenges and Child Custody
If you are dealing with mental health challenges in your custody case, it is beneficial to seek the advice of a qualified child custody lawyer in New Jersey. Child custody cases are complex and require the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the many nuances surrounding mental health and child custody. Lyons & Associates, P.C. is skilled in handling child custody cases where parental mental health is involved and will work to represent you fairly during the proceedings.