How Mental Health Can Impact Your Child Custody Rights
Child custody cases are never an easy process. As parents, each party usually believes that they have the stronger case and are willing to do what is necessary to protect their child or children. But what happens when mental health plays a role in child custody cases in Michigan? How does this influence the case, and what does a judge have to take into consideration?
Judges must consider both the mental and physical health of the child’s parents, as well as the health of anyone else who is a significant part of their lives, including other children and adults. If the court finds that someone’s chemical dependency or failure to take necessary medication could endanger the child, it may prevent or restrict custody or visitation rights.
However, mental health is only one factor the courts must consider when they’re deciding child custody cases. And while mental health could impact the determining factors, it is up to a judge to make that determination.
What Do the Laws Say?
Regardless of everything else, Michigan family courts are responsible for determining what is in the best interest of the child or children. Because the child’s best interests will be unique for each case, a judge has to consider a wide range of factors beyond each parent’s mental and physical health.
Below is a summary of what judges must consider based on Michigan family law.
An obvious first step for the court is to determine each parent’s ability to provide the child with basic necessities. These necessities include food, medical care, clothing, and other needs.
The court will also look at the child’s school records, home records, and community records, if they exist. Judges will consider the amount of time the child has lived in a stable home environment and the permanence of the proposed home.
Emotional Support and Morals
This factor can be more complicated for the courts to measure or determine, but it is just as important as providing the child’s physical necessities. The emotional connection between each parent and the child, such as showing love and affection, is considered by the judge. Also, each spouse’s ability to give the child emotional guidance, including in religion or creed, is reviewed.
Along with the child expressing their own wishes regarding custody, assuming they are old enough to do so, the judge will look at each parent’s willingness to keep a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
The moral fitness of each parent factors into a judge’s decision, as well. Does the parent have a moral compass to guide them as they continue to raise the child? Has there been any history of domestic disputes or violence that could impact the child’s future?
Once a judge feels as though they have acquired a complete picture of the case, they will make a ruling on who will receive primary custody or if custody will be split and, if so, exactly how that will be done.
Because judges must consider all of these factors, each parent’s mental health status will play a role in the decision, just as their physical health and ability to care for the child responsibly play a part.
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