Parent or Child Mental Illness and Child Custody

If you have children and are going through a divorce, one issue on which you and the other parent will have to come to an agreement is child custody. When the child or a parent is struggling with mental illness, the mental illness may have an effect on custody. If you require custody assistance, contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny at 425-460-0550.

How is Child Custody Determined in Washington?

When two parents are seeking a divorce, they have a responsibility to form a parenting plan. A parenting plan stipulates these things.

  • Where the child will live
  • Who will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s life (such as educational decisions)
  • How future parenting disputes will be resolved

When parents cannot come to an agreement about the parenting plan, though, a judge will be responsible for creating the plan and therefore determining custody.

In Washington, a judge is obligated to act within the best interests of the child. As such, the Revised Code of Washington section 26.09.187 states that a judge must consider issues such as those listed below.

  • Each parent’s ability to maintain a loving and stable relationship with the child
  • Each parent’s employment schedule
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant adults
  • Each parent’s ability to provide essential parenting functions, such as providing food, shelter, education, nurturing care, and more

When One Parent Is Mentally Ill

The mental illness of a parent involved in a custody battle will greatly impact a judge’s decision regarding a parenting plan. Depending upon the extent and the severity of the mental illness, the court may find that one parent is unsuitable for full custody rights based on the parent’s inability to provide the criteria listed above, such as a safe home or financial support.

This can be especially true if the mental illness interferes with the parent’s ability to work and earn income, or provide self-care. If a parent is determined to be mentally ill to the point where he or she cannot provide for the child, then the parent may have relatively limited custody.

Mental illness does not mean the parent is always unfit to care for a child, of course. Some mental illnesses, like minor cases of depression, can be easily treated with medication and therapy, and allow a person to live full life. Mental illness alone is not enough for a judge to deny custody and parenting rights or for the other parent to attempt to take rights away.

Molly B. Kenny Can Help with Custody Disputes

Whether you are mentally ill yourself, have a child who is mentally ill, or are seeking a divorce from a mentally ill spouse, a family law attorney can help. When constructing a parenting plan for your child during a divorce, the most important thing to consider is what’s in the best interest of the child, especially a child who is struggling with mental illness.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, our legal team will work with you to make sure that your child’s needs are addressed, and that you get a custody agreement that is fair for both you and your child. Call our offices now at 425-460-0550 or set up a consultation using our online form.

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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny