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How does mental health affect custody?

When a divorce involves children, part of the process includes determining physical and legal custody arrangements. Parents must create a plan that details where the children live, how much time they spend with each parent and who can make legal decisions regarding their care.

If a parent has a mental illness, it does not necessarily prevent them from getting custody. The courts assess the issue’s relevance during the divorce process to decide.

Courts aim to ensure the best interests of children

A judge considers each parent’s ability to provide children with a safe environment. Mental health concerns will not affect a custody arrangement unless the issues are severe and put children in potentially harmful situations.

Judges consider the specifics of each custody case

Courts want children to maintain relationships with each parent. They strive to grant custody to both parents unless a guardian cannot provide a stable and safe environment. Courts assess:

  • Severity of symptoms
  • History of treatment
  • Compliance with doctor-recommended treatments and therapies
  • Emotional stability of the parent
  • Relationship between the parent and children
  • History of violence or substance abuse

A parent actively seeking treatment for their mental health concerns will have a better outcome than someone not working to maintain their health.

Texas law does not deny parental rights solely based on mental health issues. Instead, courts analyze many factors that affect children’s emotional development, physical health, protection and well-being. A parent does not need perfect mental health to gain custody of children but must prove they can provide a safe, stable environment.

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