Mental Health and Its Impact on Parental Rights After Divorce

October 8, 2015

Nobody wants to deal with the tremendous stress of divorce. It’s usually a last resort that couples feel is absolutely necessary in order to salvage their personal well being. Divorce marks the end of a marriage and the start of single life, along with the many changes and challenges that come with it. But, this process is made all the more difficult when one or both parents suffer from mental health concerns.

Relationship Problems

In the U.S. there are approximately 42.5 million adults affected by a variety of mental health concerns. Depression, bipolar disorder, addiction and substance abuse, and anxiety disorder are just a few of the disorders that can wreak havoc on marriages, tearing them slowly apart. Caring for someone with such mental health concerns takes a toll on the relational, financial, and emotional bonds of a relationship. In Ohio, couples must state their grounds for divorce, but insanity, serious mental illness and drug abuse do not necessarily qualify as valid reasons. Habitual drunkenness is one exception in the process.

So, just how does a parent’s mental health affect the outcome of child custody in Ohio?

When allocating parental rights, it’s always the court’s desire to create an environment that protects the children’s best interests. So of course, a parent’s mental health will be considered throughout this process. The important thing is to make sure that the court does not unfairly restrict or take away your parental rights if you’re suffering from mental illness. Your rights as a parent should never automatically be disqualified simply because you are forced to live with a mental health illness.

  • Do you follow your treatment plans? Do you take your medications as prescribed; do you attend rehabilitation or therapy as recommended by your physicians? This is a sign that you have your mental health under control and managed appropriately.
  • Are you able to maintain a job, manage a home, pay your bills on time, and complete other daily activities while on your medications? These are signs that you may also be able to provide the appropriate and necessary care and attention that your children need.

Depending on the severity of your mental illness, the court may try to put some custody restrictions in place for your child’s safety. You may have specific visitation rights that include no alcohol while you’re with your children (if you suffer from addiction), visitation contingent upon completion of therapy, or court ordered supervision during visitations. In some situations, the courts may choose to sever your parental rights because of the extent of your mental health. But as a parent, it’s important that any restrictions put in place are fair and protect your legal rights along the way.

Serving Toledo families through some of their most devastating times, Michael E. Bryant understands the sensitive nature of divorce and the complicated matters that affect the outcomes of such decisions. He is dedicated to protecting your legal rights and ensuring that your children are left safe and enjoying the best of both of their parents whenever possible. To learn more about protecting your parental rights during divorce, fill out the contact form online today or call 419-243-3922 to schedule a free initial consultation.