When parents divorce, custody can become a hard-fought issue. These days, the courts generally prefer to give parents shared custody of their children, but that can change when one parent alleges that the other is either a danger to their children or incapable of taking proper care of them.
Could your spouse use the fact that you’re seeing a therapist for stress or anxiety to deprive you of custody of your children?
Parental mental health is a factor in Arizona custody decisions
It is true that the courts consider the mental health of all the parties involved when they’re deciding a custody case — but that doesn’t mean that you’ll lose custody of your children.
Family courts can obtain a parent’s mental health records or require a parent to sit for a psychological exam when the issue has been raised, but your mental health records may not do you any harm.
For example, if your anxiety or depression is situational — provoked largely by your marital problems and the upheaval in your life that has followed — that’s unlikely to signal to the judge that you’re a dangerous or incapable parent. This is particularly true if you are doing everything necessary to cope with your illness, like going to therapy and taking any prescribed medication.
Even if you have a long-term mental illness, absent any proof that you’ve been neglectful or abusive as a parent or have been dangerous to yourself or others, the court is unlikely to deprive you of all custody rights. In other words, a judge isn’t just going to take your spouse’s word for it that you’re too mentally unwell to take care of your children or that they’ll be in danger when they are in your care.
Don’t let your spouse bully you into a bad deal
Attacks on one parent’s mental health and parenting skills by the other are very common — and courts don’t fall for them that easily. More than likely, your spouse’s threats or allegations are an intimidation tactic. Don’t let it work. Experienced legal guidance can help you protect your parenting rights.