It is difficult to handle mental illness during divorce and a child custody battle. If your spouse has a mental illness, it does not necessarily make him or her an unfit parent. However, if your spouse has not been formally diagnosed or is not currently receiving treatment, it may affect how much time he or she should have with the kids. Accusations of mental illness will be taken very seriously by the court, so this is not something you should bring up lightly. If you believe your spouse is ill though, speak with a Wheaton divorce attorney from Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. to learn about your legal options.
If You Are Worried About Mental Illness During a Divorce and Custody Dispute
Do not simply make accusations when you believe your spouse is mentally ill. Do not attempt to withhold the kids from their other parent. There are appropriate steps to take when you think your children’s other parent suffers from a diagnosable psychological illness. You should:
- Tell your divorce attorney immediately
- Describe why you think your spouse has a mental illness
- Tell your attorney if you know your child’s parent has seen a physician for a mental illness
- Consider whether this mental illness puts your child in harm’s way
- Ask the court to require a psychological evaluation
Your attorney will explain your legal options if you believe the other parent is ill and how this may affect your case. If there is evidence that the other parent is ill and needs help, then your attorney may ask for a court-ordered mental evaluation.
What to Expect If Your Ask for an Evaluation
You are entitled to ask the court to require that your children’s other parent undergo a psychological evaluation by a suggested physician. You will need to offer evidence as to why this is necessary and appropriate. The judge has discretion in this matter and may or may not appoint the physician you recommended. If the judge orders your spouse to be assessed, he or she usually has 21 days to complete this requirement. Since this evaluation will cost money, the judge can require that you take part in paying for it.
Asking for a mental evaluation is very serious and can have unexpected consequences. If you and your attorney agree it is best to file a motion requesting a mental condition examination, then you should be prepared for:
- Alienating the other parent
- Also undergoing an evaluation
- Increasing the cost of your divorce
Be Careful With This Request
If you are trying to use this as a reason to obtain all parenting time and responsibilities, be warned, that is not how it works. A mental illness does not make the other person an unfit parent and will not automatically bar him or her from receiving parenting time and responsibilities. If you bring this issue up in court unnecessary or use it for leverage, a judge may look upon you unfavorably. A request for a mental condition examination should be used when there is genuine concern for your spouse’s wellbeing and your children’s wellbeing and safety.
Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer for Advice
If you are not currently represented in your divorce and have questions about how a mental illness affects your situation, call the experienced divorce lawyers of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. as soon as possible at 630-961-0060. We offer free initial consultations to get to know each other, learn about your case, and help you decide what is best for you.