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Can a Parenting Plan be Modified if I Think My Ex-Spouse Has Mental Health Issues

Uncategorized Apr 27, 2017

There may be times when circumstances change in custody cases. In this instance the father believes the mother has mental health issues. 

There’s nothing wrong with having mental health issues but if you are in a custody case it’s important that you are getting treatment that you need & follow those treatment plans. In this case my client believes the mother has had these mental health issues & because she had not been treating them, she was placing the children in dangerous situations, negligent & in some cases reckless in her conduct. My client believed that when the children were in her care they were in danger of serious harm or injury. So he wanted to limit her parenting time.

One of the first things the court ordered was for both parties to meet with what is called a court appointed advisor. This advisor is like an investigator or a researcher & they look into allegations. & was looking for was information for the allegations that my client was making in terms of his wife’s mental health. There had also been some domestic violence perpetrated against my client by his wife. The advisor issued a report & recommended that the wife submit to a mental health evaluation. We got to the time of the trial & she hadn’t done the mental health evaluation.

We did not go to trial at that time & Before the trial date the wife went to the mutually agreed upon doctor for her evaluation. One of the requirements of the judge was the mom provide that first court appointed advisor’s report to the doctor doing the evaluation. The wife did not provide that report which resulted in the doctor initially issuing the opinion that the wife did not have any mental health issues & that she was not a danger to herself, her children or to others.

But then it was shown that the wife did not provide that report to the doctor as ordered by the judge, so she then provided the report to the doctor so he could revise his opinion. Once he saw that report he was upset because he felt he had been manipulated by the wife with her failure to disclose this report. Upon reviewing the court appointed advisor’s report, the doctor changed his report & thought there was a strong possibility that the wife was suffering from either bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. He recommended a variety of different things one of which was supervised visitation &/or discontinuing wife’s parenting time until she got a forensic psychiatric or psychological evaluation.

Another thing the court had ordered was after the wife had done the mental health evaluation, the parties would meet with what is called in Arizona, a ‘parenting conference provider’ whose job is to provide more information to the court on the issues of the case & best interest factors. Upon reviewing the court appointed advisor’s report & the doctor’s report & talking with mother & mother’s failure to be upfront with the parenting conference provider, the mother could be suffering from a significant mental health condition.

We now have 3 different opinions from 3 different professionals 2 of which recommended that the mother’s parenting time be supervised or suspended. My client originally was requesting the mother’s parenting time be limited to every other weekend but he now has changed his opinion & wants supervised time as recommended in the mental health professional’s reports. You may learn information that changes your position & the safest way to handle this is to put the judge, other party & other party’s attorney on notice that your position has changed.

The rules will be different in each state so if you are going to change your position, Google ‘amendment of pleadings’ for your jurisdiction either in civil procedure or family law procedure because if you don’t follow those rules there is the possibility the court will not allow you to change your position. However, the judge in my case will also look at the best interest of the child & in my case you had 3 mental health professionals saying that equal parenting time was not in the best interest of the child. Thus I don’t see the judge ignoring these recommendations but in your state it may be different, so the best thing to always do is follow the rules of the court.