child custody lawyers in Westchester County with offices in
White Plains, New York we handle countless child custody,
grandparent custody/visitation cases. A legal issue during a custody case that can present is the mental
health of a parent. When this issue is presented it is important to have
a full understanding of the various mental health issues and the seriousness
of the mental health issues. Our child custody lawyers are always looking
for any legal strategy to obtain our client's goals and it is usually
necessary to discuss or defend against mental health allegations by a parent.
This blog is designed to provide an outline for parents involved in a custody
case where an issue is the mental health of a parent. The blog also discusses
how the Family Court views various mental health issues and mental health
findings when making a determination of custody.
A parent's mental health is one relevant factor for a court to consider
when making a custody decision. A finding of mental illness or emotional
instability of one parent neither mandates an award of custody to the
other parent nor precludes the "mentally ill" parent's active
participation in the parenting process. The mental illness condition must
render that parent unfit to exercise custody. This is determined on a
case by case basis.
For example, the Family Court in New York found that an award of joint
custody was inappropriate where both parties had psychological problems
and the court found that both parents were unable to put aside their differences
for the good of the child. The mother had been voluntarily hospitalized
for depression and an attempted suicide and the father suffered from borderline
post traumatic stress disorder. The court had both parents attend and
complete psychological evaluations to determine what parent should be
the custodial parent. The court found that custody should be awarded to
the father as the mother was manic-depressive, routinely stopped taking
her medication and even her own psychiatrist felt she should have supervised
It is generally accepted by the New York Family Courts that the parents
in a contested custody case put their own physical and mental condition
at issue. The Courts are within their discretion to require that both
parents and the child undergo an impartial mental health evaluation. This
is also known as a "forensic report" or "mental health
report". The mental health report is generated and provided to the
court and the attorneys for the parents.
Additional examinations may be ordered by the Family Court upon a showing
that the prior examinations were inadequate or that subsequent behavior
of the parents raised new issues as to the child's social, emotional
or moral welfare.
Mental Health Reports
The mental health report can be used by the Family Court to help determine
which parent should have custody. The top custody lawyers will critically
review each report to determine how best to use a mental health report
in court for their client's benefit. It is common for a court to direct
attorneys not to allow the parents to read the mental health report but
usually the attorneys can discuss the substance of the report with their clients.
Call our Custody Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one is involved in any family court litigation including
a dispute over child custody and an issue of mental health is involved,
call our law office for a
free consultation. During the consultation we can discuss your options and how our office
can help your specific case.
Our lawyers have decades or experience handling countless child custody
cases with various mental health issues. We are aggressive attorneys who
always make ourselves available to help you.
Call us today (914) 946-4808