No Texas divorce is easy, but your family situation can become more complicated when one parent alleges that the other is mentally ill. Especially for child custody determination, both parents will know what it means to allege mental illness during a divorce case and how this can influence the final child custody decisions. Hiring a Fort Worth family law attorney should be one of the first things you do when you find yourself in this situation.
The Real Impact of Mental Illness Allegations on Child Custody
Few allegations can damage a custody case like reports of mental health problems. Family violence, drug use, and criminal charges are all serious matters that a judge will consider for determining child custody. However, claims of mental health issues lodged by the other parent are long-lasting and destructive in child custody situations. If this applies to your case, you need an aggressive divorce attorney in your corner to give you the support you need.
If you are the parent alleging the other parent has mental health issues, an experienced lawyer will know how to help the Court see the danger to the children. If you are the parent who is alleged to have a mental health issue, you definitely need a lawyer to help illuminate the facts in your favor.
Allegations that a parent has mental health issues, takes prescription drugs for mental illness—or should be taking medications as prescribed but is not doing so—, has been admitted to a clinic or emergency watch in the past for suicidal ideation, and more are all harmful in a child custody case. What makes these even more challenging? The allegations do not need to be provable, even though they can cast a shadow over all of your remaining child custody hearings.
The mere allegation of mental illness is enough to raise questions from the judge on the case because that judge must consider the child’s best interests. The court will likely side with the other party to protect the children if there’s reason to believe mental illness exists.
Here are a few ways allegations of mental illness can influence an open custody case:
- The accused parent might have their parenting time limited
- Supervised visitation is more likely
- The other parent might be more likely to get custody, and it’s very hard to regain custody after that point
Why Do I Need a Fort Worth Family Lawyer if My Former Spouse Claims I’m Mentally Ill?
The difference between claims of serious mental illness or allegations of suicidal ideation is that you now must prove you are not mentally or are not suicidal. Your former partner is likely privy to information about you that can make it hard for you to fight back against these claims. Whether factual or contrived, these allegations place significant pressure on the accused parent, who might have to prove a negative by seeking psychological evaluations, psychiatric care, psychotropic medication, or counseling to demonstrate that there is no risk of harm to the children. To add insult to injury, the accused parent often bears all of the assessment and treatment costs involved too. Furthermore, the courts commonly order supervised visitation with the children until the psychological assessments determine the parent is safe, depriving you of quality time with them. Sufficient treatment requires weeks or months of expensive therapy from mental health professionals.
Your anger at the other party for putting you through such an ordeal is understandable. However, your demeanor and response in court are critical because you don’t want to appear unstable. Again, an experienced family lawyer will be able to help mitigate the legal damage, or get you on a path to normal visits with the children as quickly as possible.
What to Do In Divorce If You Struggle with Mental Health Issues
As dedicated family lawyers in Fort Worth, TX, we deal with mental health allegations regularly. We have represented parents who believe their spouse is suicidal. Likewise, we occasionally represent good parents who struggle with suicidal tendencies. Based on our experience, here are our recommendations:
Get Help If You Need It
First and foremost, if you are suicidal, seek the help of a licensed psychological or psychiatric professional. Your safety is job one. You can’t be a parent if you’re not alive. You can’t be a good parent if you consider harming yourself or others. Getting treatment is crucial.
Keep Treatment to Yourself
Stay quiet if you do have mental health issues. Do not tell anyone other than your doctor or your treating mental health professional about your treatment plan and ongoing visits. Be open and honest with your doctor or mental health professional about your thoughts and circumstances. But do NOT tell friends, family, coworkers, the other parent, Facebook, Instagram, or any other person about your evaluations or mental health concerns.
That means, if at all possible, seek treatment by yourself. In a custody battle, your friends and family can be required to testify against you. The other parent will certainly testify about your suicidal thoughts. The more people who know, the more likely you lose your case. The exception to this rule is your family lawyer in Texas. Once you are safe and undergoing treatment, tell your divorce lawyer—who cannot reveal privileged or confidential information that would damage your case—about your situation. Your mental health secret is safe with your family law attorney.
Keep in mind that your TX divorce lawyer must report abuse, imminent danger to the children, and other safety issues. If your lawyer becomes aware that you are suicidal or dealing with advanced mental health concerns, he or she should seek treatment for you. However, the facts concerning your treatment are confidential and privileged. So only your lawyer, you, and the mental health facility will know about your treatment.
Youngblood Law, PLLC: Definitive, Decisive, Dedicated
The courts do not require perfect mental health. However, the courts must determine that a parent’s mental health issues do not endanger the children. Getting the court the proof it needs to believe a parent does not pose a threat to their children is a long, arduous, and expensive undertaking.
Are you concerned about your children’s other parent accusing you of mental health problems in a child custody case? You need a Fort Worth family law attorney who has years of experience in handling these complex situations. At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we provided custom work for each client, understanding that divorce and family law is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all strategy. For us, success is a way of life. We approach every case with compassion and non-judgment, utilizing our years of experience and knowledge of the law while avoiding unnecessary toxicity. We’ll not only handle your divorce with professionalism and competence, but we’ll also set you up for success moving forward.
To schedule your consultation, give us a call at (817) 601-5345.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Youngblood Law, PLLC
2501 Parkview Dr Ste. 500
Fort Worth, TX 76102