Mental Health, Custody, and Your Divorce

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mental Health, Custody, and Your Divorce 

When your partner has a serious mental health condition and is symptomatic finding the right course of treatment can be a demanding process. Once they are stabilized the delicate balance between medication and daily living can be challenging to maintain. Over time, the strain of the situation can take its toll on a marriage and ultimately lead to its end. When the divorcing couple has children, deciding time-sharing and decision-making in this situation can be a complex task. Here are some issues to consider regarding mental health, custody, and your divorce.

Best Interest

The family court can look at a parent’s mental health in deciding if certain decisions are in the child’s best interest. Having a mental health condition alone is not a reason for a parent to be denied time-sharing or decision-making concerning their children. In evaluating what is in the child’s best interest, the court can take the parent’s mental health into consideration but will also look at their overall history of providing a stable and emotionally supportive home environment for their children.

Limits on Time-Sharing and Decision-Making

The Florida family code supports both parents having equal access to and decision-making authority concerning their children. However, if the court looks at the evidence and decides that a parent’s mental health condition warrants limitations it could mean they will have less time and power to make custodial decisions. If the parent has a track record which includes medication mismanagement, labile behavior, and reckless conduct due to their mental health issues, the court could conclude that the parent is not equipped to provide their children with a safe environment or make decisions regarding their well-being.


If a parent were to have limited time-sharing and custodial decision-making power, they could later challenge these constraints in a modification action. The parent would need to be able to demonstrate that their mental health issues are under control and have remained so since the prior order was issued. In other words, a parent in this situation could wait a significant amount of time and then return to court and ask for fewer restrictions. If he or she is able to prove they are safe and stable, the court could reduce or even eliminate some of the limitations from the previous court order.

Mental health issues and custody can be concerning during a divorce case. At the Draper Law Office, we have attorneys who are experienced in helping families through this process and can provide the guidance and support you need. Contact us online or at (866) 767-4711 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our three locations: St. Cloud, Kissimmee, and Orlando.

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