The mental health of a parent can affect a child custody decision so it is very important to take steps to evaluate and make an accurate assessment.
Today I want to talk about mental health and how it comes into play in your child custody case, whether it be parenting time or decision making regarding joint or sole custody. One of the factors a judge looks at when making a decision about the best interests of the child is the mental, emotional and physical health of all of the parties including both parents and the child.
What I see in these cases is either one parent blowing the condition way out of proportion or not taking the mental health condition seriously as they should. This is hard to gauge if you are not a mental health professional. Even I as an attorney has trouble determining whether the parent has a mental condition or not.
The best way to provide evidence of a mental health issue is to get a hold of the medical records of the person who may be suffering from this. Depending on what state you live in, there are various ways to obtain these records. The way I get the documents is to ask the other party to sign a medical release (HIPAA). Then I send those releases out to the doctors.
Once I receive the records I look for any mental health issues or any medications they may be using to treat this. I also look at the length of time the person has been treated. I also look at the proposed treatment and if the person is following it.
Since as a custody lawyer, I am not in a position to make an evaluation of the diagnosis in some situations you may have to hire a nurse practicenor or even a doctor or psychiatrist to testify at the custody hearing and to make an assessment of the condition. Although it does cost money to hire a mental health evaluator your custody court case, it is very important for the sake of the child and when the judges decide on your custody case it be in the best interest of the child.
Furthermore, just because a parent is diagnosed with a mental health issue it does not mean that they are not fit to be a parent.
So again, the first step in determining these things is to obtain the medical records of the party.