Mental health issues can have a major impact on a child custody case in California. While those suffering from mental health conditions are protected from unfair treatment under CA law, if behaviors associated with the illness pose a threat to the safety and wellbeing of the child, it can drastically affect settlement outcomes. It is important to understand the various legal and emotional considerations that come into play when mental health issues are involved in a child custody case in California.
Mental Health and Custody Disputes in California
California has adopted a child-centered approach to determining child custody arrangements. This means that the courts prioritize what they believe to be in the best interests of the child over all other considerations. It is important to note that just because one parent has been diagnosed with a mental illness does not necessarily mean that they will be denied primary custody of their children.
The courts consider the following factors when making child custody determinations:
- The health and safety of the child
- Whether either party has a history of abuse (against the child, the other parent, or other parties with whom they had a relationship)
- The nature of each party’s current relationship with the child
- Whether either party has a history of (or continues to struggle with) substance abuse
- Any other relevant information
Thus, if either party has depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition that the other party alleges affects the child’s safety, the court will have to investigate before making a custody decision. As such, when considering a parent’s mental health, the court takes into account any evidence that might suggest that it will negatively impact their ability to provide for the needs of their children. This could include anything from past criminal charges related to their mental health to current behavior that could indicate potential instability or harm.
The court will also examine the extent to which each parent’s mental health affects their ability to provide a safe, stable environment for their child. For instance, if one parent suffers from unchecked and severe depressive episodes, it may be difficult for them to consistently provide emotional support for their children due to the unpredictable nature of their depression.
Additionally, the court may consider any past instances of physical or emotional abuse perpetrated by either parent due to their mental illness. For example, if a parent has difficulty managing stress or anger due to anxiety, this could lead them to become overly controlling toward their children or engage in a discipline that is too harsh or inconsistent.
If the parent has previously struggled with their mental health, they can demonstrate that they have taken active steps towards creating an environment where their children will thrive. This can influence judges’ decisions in favor of granting them primary or joint custody.
If the court believes either parent poses a risk of harm or neglect due to their mental illness, they will prioritize the child’s safety. Depending on the condition and how it impacts a person, the court may suggest supervised visitation or temporary guardianship arrangements until it can be determined that there are no risks posed by either party’s mental health issues.
How A Lawyer Can Help
In some cases, it may be necessary for those involved in child custody disputes to seek legal assistance from an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help by gathering evidence and crafting arguments as part of your case, while also providing guidance and advice throughout the process. Additionally, legal counsel can represent you during court proceedings so that you can make sure your rights are protected during any negotiations or hearings regarding your family law matters.
At Fenchel Family Law PC, we understand the impact child custody matters can have on families and are dedicated to providing our clients with compassionate and aggressive representation. We have a team of experienced lawyers who will guide you through each step of your case while advocating for what is in your best interest.
With years of experience helping families navigate difficult family law cases, we can provide the support and guidance needed when it comes to establishing or modifying parenting plans that work for everyone involved. If either parent has a mental health condition, our attorneys are equipped to help you understand the challenges and unique issues that you may face and can help you develop a personalized case strategy.
To speak with a member of our team, call (415) 805-9069 or reach out to us online.