Struggling with a mental illness can be a very emotional thing to cope with. What can be even more challenging, however, is when you are going through a divorce or separation and have questions about how your mental health may affect your right to custody of your child. If you are facing a child custody hearing in Illinois, here is a look into how your mental health may play a role, and why you need an attorney on your side who will advocate for your rights.
What Factors a Judge Considers When Making a Child Custody Determination
Per Illinois Compiled Statutes – Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Action, Section 602, a judge must make a custody determination that is within the best interests of the child. Further, a judge must consider all relevant factors, including:
- The wishes of the child’s parent or parents;
- The wishes of the child;
- The relationship between the child and each of his or her parents;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- Any threat of violence to the child;
- The occurrence of any abuse;
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide care for the child;
- Any history of sexual offenses of any of the parents;
- The terms of military service of one or both parents, if applicable; and
- The physical and mental health of all individuals involved.
It is important that a person be of sound physical and mental health when caring for a child, as a lack of either could result in harm to the child.
How Can Mental Health Affect Your Right to Child Custody?
A court cannot discriminate against simply for having a mental health issue; rather, that mental health issue must in some way impair your ability to provide your child with the physical, emotional, and mental care that he or she requires for ideal health and happiness. For example, if your mental health renders you unable to hold a job, makes you violent, or prevents you from caring for yourself or for another human, the court must consider this when making a decision about with whom your child will live. On the other hand, if your mental illness is controlled and does not prevent you from doing the above, then a court may not view your mental health as a limiting factor in your ability to have custody of your child.
Improve Your Chances of Being Granted Custody of Your Child
Being granted custody of your child is no doubt one of the most important things to you in the world. If your divorce/separation was not resolved amicably, your spouse may try to use your mental health against you in order to gain custody of your child. If you have fears about losing your child, do not hesitate to seek the assistance of a legal professional. At Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., we can help you to prove to a judge that you are a capable, loving, and competent parent who can provide your child with the care he or she both needs and deserves.