Custody determinations can involve extremely personal investigations into the personal lives of the parents, and Judges may rely on outmoded opinions or stereotypes when deciding what makes a good or bad parent when allocating custodial time. If you have been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or another psychological condition for which you are receiving treatment, you may feel concerned that a judge will consider that this fact alone necessitates a finding that you are not a fit parent. However, a skilled child custody attorney will understand the techniques and strategies necessary to show your fitness to the court. Well-managed mental illness does not have to result in a loss of custody.
Mental illness is historically highly stigmatized and thought of as a weakness that makes a person unable to participate in healthy relationships. This is especially the case in more serious mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. One study from 2000 showed that co-parents who focus heavily on the other parent’s mental illness in a custody battle were successful between 70 to 80% of the time. There are many ways to overcome this stigma, however. First of all, greater awareness of the prevalence of mental illness exists, and courts are more likely to view a parent taking steps such as treating their condition with an antidepressant or regular therapy as a sign of the parent’s responsibility and proactivity in continuing to be a capable mother or father. Second, an experienced attorney will make use of resources such as expert testimony and forensic psychological evaluations. Obtaining an objective evaluation from a psychologist other than your own who can testify to your stability and adherence to a treatment regimen will provide further assurance of your fitness to a judge. Another excellent way to support your custody bid is by cultivating a support network of friends and family who can both provide assistance should times get tough, and testify at a custody hearing in support of your ability to handle the responsibilities of parenthood. Finding a Southern California family law attorney who can skillfully advocate on your behalf, despite not falling into a traditional definition of an ideal parent, will provide you peace of mind regarding the outcome of your custody determination.
If you are in need of an experienced San Diego family law attorney, contact Andy Cook for a consultation on your divorce or custody case at 619-515-9900.