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Will a Parent’s Mental Health Impact a Custody Decision in New Jersey?

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When you and your spouse divorce, there may be several reasons your marriage broke down. Unfortunately, if mental health is at the forefront, it can be a difficult decision to end the marriage. Though you love your spouse, their mental health can heavily impact your relationship. However, when you share children, understanding how mental health and custody impact each other is critical to protecting your little ones. As such, the following blog explores what you must know if your spouse has a mental illness and why it’s in your best interest to connect with a Somerset County child custody attorney to explore your options.

Why Is Mental Health Relevant in Custody Decisions?

Though mental illness is something that is heavily stigmatized, it’s important to understand that many people suffer from mental health issues. In many instances, parents who have mental health issues are exceptional parents. However, others may find their diagnosis interferes with their ability to parent. As such, this must be taken into consideration by the courts.

When the courts make custody decisions, they use a standard known as “the child’s best interest.” Essentially, this means the health, safety, and happiness of the child are prioritized over what the parents may want. As such, the courts will take the following factors into consideration when determining custody of a child when one parent has mental health issues:

  • The ability of the parent to provide a stable home life for the child
  • How the disorder impacts the parent’s ability to provide for the child
  • Healthcare records, including hospitalizations
  • Whether or not the parent is actively receiving treatment
  • If their condition causes harmful behavior
  • If the child has witnessed an episode

If a parent has a mental illness but is adhering to treatment plans, assumes an active role in the child’s life, and does not put the child at risk of physical, emotional, or mental harm, the courts can rule in their favor.

What Should I Do if I Have Concerns About My Child’s Safety?

If you are going through a custody battle and have reason to believe your child could be at risk if left in the care of your ex-spouse who suffers from mental health issues, you may be unaware of how to proceed. It’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney as soon as possible, as they have the necessary legal understanding of how to proceed through these matters. For example, they may be able to help convince the court that the parent should undergo an evaluation if they have a limited treatment history.

At the Siragusa Law Firm, we understand how complex these matters can be, which is why we are committed to fighting for you and protecting your child’s best interest. Our team is ready to help you. Contact our firm today to discuss the circumstances of your case with a member of our dedicated firm.

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