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parent with child mental health

How Does a Parent’s Mental Health Affect Custody Arrangements in New Jersey? 

In the U.S., mental illness affects many people. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can have a devastating impact on relationships and marriages, which often leads to divorce. If a mental health condition has impacted your marriage, you may have decided to go your separate ways. However, if you have children, you must determine a custody arrangement. Many parents with mental illness worry that their condition will disqualify them from gaining custody. Please continue reading to learn how mental health can impact the outcome of your case and how a trusted Ocean County Child Custody Attorney can help safeguard your parenting time. 

Does the Court Consider a Parent’s Mental Health When Awarding Custody?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that the paramount consideration in custody cases is the best interests of a child. This standard is intended to promote and encourage the child’s physical and emotional development, mental health, security, and overall well-being. However, courts don’t just look at one factor when determining the best interests of a child. The following include, but are not limited to, the factors the court will consider:

  • The age and health of the child
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The parent-child relationship
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • The stability of each home environment
  • The proximity of each parent’s home to school and each other
  • The earning capacity of the parents
  • The child’s parental preference (if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express. preference based on sound reasoning)
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any substance abuse problems
  • Any criminal history of each parent
  • Any history of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment

As you can see, they will consider all relevant factors, including whether a parent has a mental health condition. This is because the court recognizes the fact that a parent’s mental health can influence their capabilities to meet their child’s needs. If a parent’s mental illness could put the child’s safety or development at risk.

Will a Mental Illness Preclude a Parent From Gaining Custody in New Jersey?

While the court will consider a parent’s mental health when awarding custody, it will not automatically preclude them from gaining custody. However, it will significantly influence the court’s decision. The court will evaluate the severity of the affliction, treatment options, and the parties’ willingness to seek treatment, among other factors. If they determine the condition negatively impacts parenting abilities, they may need to limit or supervise the parent’s time with the child to ensure their well-being. Nonetheless, if the court determines a parent is fit to care for the child and it would be in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with them, they can grant a parent with a mental health condition custody.

If you’re facing a custody battle and have concerns your mental health will impact the court’s decision, please don’t hesitate to contact a compassionate attorney from the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC, who can help you protect your parental rights.