Will I Lose Child Custody Rights if I Have a Mental Illness in Illinois?
There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, many of which do not affect your capabilities as a parent. However, you may be concerned that a diagnosis will affect your child custody case when going through a divorce. Generally speaking, suffering from mental health issues is not enough for you to lose your parental responsibilities in Illinois. However, how you treat and manage your mental illness can have an impact on the outcome of the legal proceedings. That is why it is critical to seek the legal guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help protect your parental rights.
Factors Determining Child Custody in Illinois
A judge will consider several factors when determining child custody, also known as the allocation of parental responsibilities, under Illinois law. All of these factors center around what is in the best interests of the child. There are a number of issues a judge will take into consideration, including the following:
- The relationship the child has with other members of the family.
- The mental and physical health of the child and parents.
- Any history of domestic violence involving the child or other family members.
- The wishes of each parent and the child.
Although a court may look into your mental health history when allocating parental responsibilities, a health condition of this type does not necessarily mean that you will lose custody of your child.
Treating and Managing Mental Illness
Mental illness is not as rare or taboo as it was in the past and courts rarely deny custody based on mental health conditions alone. Parents who do not seek help, however, are in danger of losing their child custody case. Those with mental illnesses may require ongoing therapy as well as medication to treat the condition. Patients who follow their treatment plan and take any necessary medication can use this as proof that they are managing their condition. Evidence that active steps are being taken to improve your mental health can help you in your child custody case.
Unfortunately, many people choose to self-medicate their condition, regardless of medical proof that they struggle with a mental illness. When a parent turns to alcohol or drugs to alleviate the symptoms of his or her mental health issue, it is not only ineffective, but it can also ruin the chances of winning a child custody case.
What to Do if Your Spouse Suffers from a Mental Illness
Determining when someone is suffering from a mental illness, particularly when going through a divorce, isn’t always easy. Divorce is an extremely emotional process and can cause people to say and do things they normally would not. If you suspect your spouse has a mental illness, it is crucial that you document this, particularly if he or she is not receiving treatment of any kind.
Keep in mind that you cannot record your spouse in Illinois without his or her consent. However, you can use any voicemail messages as evidence, as well as any text messages or emails your spouse has sent. If any of the evidence indicates mental illness, you may present them in court to argue your case. If your spouse admits that he or she is not seeking treatment or medical help, he or she may be deemed inadequate to care for your child.
Contact an Arlington Heights Divorce Attorney
Child custody can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and you likely have many concerns regarding your child’s well-being. Dedicated Rolling Meadows child custody lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson has vast experience and knowledge in handling all types of divorce cases, including ones that involve children and/or mental illness. He will advise you on the facts of your case and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call him today at 847-873-6741 to schedule a free consultation.