Depressed woman sittingDepression is the most common mental illness in America, and millions of people suffer from bouts of depression, especially after a traumatic experience like a divorce, a job loss, a death in the family or financial stress. Did you know that one out of ten Americans will suffer from clinical depression at some time in their lives? Recently, you may have read news stories about more and more spouses citing an ex’s depression in child custody cases.

A judge will only make custody decisions based on the best interests of a child. When it comes to considering a history of depression in one of the child’s parents, a judge will likely consider how long or how often depression has affected the parent, whether the parent has received treatment for the depression, and how the depression might affect a child’s home life. It is important to note that there is a significant difference between suffering from depression during a hard time in your life and suffering from lifelong major depression or manic depression.

What Should I do if I'm Worried My History of Depression Will Affect My Custody Case?

  • Get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. If you are depressed, don’t attempt to hide it because of a child custody case. Go to a doctor and get an accurate evaluation of the situation. There is a big difference between suffering a bout of depression, suffering from major depression, being manic depressive, and being suicidal. Make certain that what you are suffering from is made clear to the judge.
  • Get the appropriate treatment. Most doctors recommend a combination of medication and counseling for those with depression. It is vital that you treat your depression, both to manage your illness and to show that you know how to recognize and confront difficult issues in your life.
  • Ask yourself if your depression is affecting your children. If you are too depressed to give your children a loving home life or to fulfill their basic needs, you may not be the best parent for them at this time. As difficult as it is, be honest about your own ability to care for children and about what is in the best interest of your kids.
  • Get an experienced Seattle child custody attorney. It is possible to get custody of your children despite a history of depression, but it is important to understand that the subject must be handled quickly and correctly. To speak with an experienced Bellevue family law attorney today, call Molly Kenny to make an appointment.

Unfortunately, although depression is a relatively common health issue, those suffering from depression are often stigmatized or unfairly treated. For example, it is more and more common for a parent to cite a history of depression in their ex in an attempt to gain child custody. While some people are indeed too affected by major depression to care for their children, others may be managing their depression and perfectly capable of providing their children with the stable environment and care that they need.

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If you are involved in a Washington State child custody case and worry that your history of depression may hurt your chances of gaining custody of your children, it is critical to speak with a Seattle child custody attorney about your case. Call Molly Kenny today for more information.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington