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Can a Parent’s Mental Health Affect a Custody Arrangement in Michigan?

 Posted on April 22, 2022 in Family Law

Oakland County child custody attorneyMuch of the stigma surrounding mental illness has disappeared in recent years, thanks in large part to better education, greater awareness, and improved treatment options. Most mental illnesses can be managed with medication and therapy well enough that people can enjoy normal and productive lives. 

Mental illness, however, can still be a major challenge in a marriage, and someone with mental illness may fear that their condition could make it difficult for them to get custody of their children in a divorce. Fortunately, mental illness alone cannot prevent a parent from caring for their children; however, failing to treat a mental illness can lead to behaviors that may jeopardize custody arrangements. 

Does a Court Have to Know About My Mental Illness? 

If a spouse’s mental illness has caused problems in a marriage, it is likely to come up during divorce proceedings. Trying to hide mental illness, especially by avoiding treatment, is not a good idea and may lead a judge to worry that the spouse who suffers from mental illness is not taking it seriously. Judges are generally reluctant to deprive a parent of total contact with a child unless that parent presents a clear danger to the child; unfortunately, certain mental illnesses that are left untreated do have the potential to put a child in danger. 

Will a Judge Take My Children Away from Me? 

In every divorce or custody case, parents are encouraged to create a custody agreement that they both find acceptable. However, when parents cannot agree and a judge intervenes, he or she will consider many factors before making the drastic decision to completely remove a parent’s custodial rights. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Whether the parent acknowledges the mental illness and is seeking treatment
  • What type of treatment is being used
  • Whether the parent has arbitrarily stopped treatment in the past and what effect stopping treatment had on the parent’s behavior
  • How the mental illness affects the child and his or her relationship with the parent
  • Whether the mental illness potentially puts the child at risk of harm

Even if one parent tries to fight the other parent’s custody rights, a judge who sees that a child is safe and that a parent is following an appropriate treatment plan will determine whether the parent with mental illness is fit to spend time with the child, despite whatever the other parent has to say. 

Schedule a Free Case Review with an Oakland County, MI Child Custody Lawyer

If you are concerned about your co-parent’s mental health and whether it could have an adverse effect on your children, schedule a complimentary consultation with an Oakland County child custody attorney with Elkouri Heath, PLC. We will discuss your concerns, explore your options, and provide excellent representation to ensure your family’s needs are met and your children’s best interests are protected. Call us now at 248-344-9700




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