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How Does a Parent’s Mental Health Impact Custody Decisions In New Jersey?

Despite one in five adults in the United States enduring mental illness, there is a heavy stigma surrounding this topic. However, if you have found that mental illness has impacted your marriage, you may have decided that divorce is in your best interest. Though this is complex enough, when you have a child with your partner, it can be even more overwhelming. If you and your spouse are determining how you will split parenting time, understanding how mental health can impact the custody outcome is critical. Luckily, the following blog and New Jersey child custody attorneys can help you navigate these times.

Will the Courts Consider Mental Health When Awarding Custody?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand that not everyone who suffers from a mental illness will be deemed an unfit parent. Many people have diagnosed mental illnesses and can live an exceedingly average life. However, some parents may find their issues interfere with their ability to parent. Regardless, if a parent has mental health issues, the courts will not automatically grant the other parent full custody. Instead, they will take several elements into consideration before making a final decision. These matters include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The severity of the mental illness the parent struggles with
  • How it impacts the parent’s ability to provide for the child
  • If it impacts the parent’s ability to provide a stable environment for the child
  • Whether or not the parent is receiving treatment
  • The parent’s medical history

Generally, the courts base child custody on the “child’s best interest” standard, meaning the health and happiness of the child are prioritized above all else. As such, if the parent with a mental illness is fit to have custody and it would be in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with them, the courts will grant custody.

I Have Concerns About My Child’s Safety. What Can I Do?

As you can see, mental health is not one-size-fits-all. As such, the courts will ultimately make a decision regarding your child’s custody circumstances based on the information they have.

However, if you have reason to believe that your ex-spouse is misrepresenting the severity of their mental illness, you may have concerns about your child’s safety when in their custody. As such, you should connect with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to voice your concerns. Your attorney may be able to have the courts order an evaluation for our spouse to get the truth about their illness and subsequent ability to care for the child.

As you can see, this is an incredibly complex and sensitive matter. That’s why it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced family law firm that can help you navigate these challenging matters. The team at Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is ready to assist you. We will do everything in our power to help ensure the best interest of your family.

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