Mental illness affects millions of people in Florida and throughout the world. If not properly treated, it can have a negative effect on many areas of life, including relationships.
One of Florida’s custody factors is the physical and mental health of each parent. This is one of many factors considered by a court when determining a custody schedule that is in the best interest of a child.
Acknowledging mental illness
While a parent’s mental illness should not be used against them in a custody dispute, parents with mental illness often have a harder time trying to get custody of their children.
Unfortunately, this sometimes leads parents suffering from a mental illness to not seek treatment out of fear that it will be used against them.
Your mental illness is not a reason to deny you custody
A court cannot deny you custody time with your child simply because of your mental illness. However, often it is not the mental illness itself, but the symptoms associated with it that are the reason parents lose custody.
Untreated mental illness can result in volatile behavior or cause a parent to engage in alcohol or substance abuse, which increases the chance of losing custody. If that happens, a parent’s mental health can deteriorate further.
Addressing mental illness
The best way to handle mental illness is to not ignore, deny or minimize it. Obtain a professional diagnosis and follow any treatment recommendations.
You cannot control your mental illness, but you can control what you do about it. When a court sees that you are taking steps to treat your mental illness and stay healthy, you are more likely to keep or obtain the custody schedule you are seeking.
Gathering and presenting evidence
Your co-parent may try to use your mental health diagnosis against you. Be ready to provide medical records and documents showing your diagnosis. Testimony from your doctor that you are properly treating your mental illness can also help.
Struggling with mental illness is never easy, especially for separated parents. Having a strong support system is essential.