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Mental illness makes it more likely that you'll lose custody

It's been found that parents who have some sort of mental illness are simply more likely to have their rights to child custody taken away from them than those who do not have any mental illness. For those who suffer from a disorder—even if it is under control and they take the proper medications every single day—this can be a very big factor in divorce cases and the like.

Factors that are considered when a judge is deciding how to rule in a case could include the following:

-- The stress that the person has to go through based on the illness-- The stress that it puts on the rest of the family-- The way the illness could make it harder—or impossible—to parent a child effectively-- The economic hardship that such an illness can create, especially when treatment is expensive or it limits the parent's ability to work

Naturally, the safety of the child is also going to be considered.

So, what happens to children who are taken away due to mental illness? In a divorce case, the children will be given to the other parent. The parent with the mental illness may get joint custody rights or at least visitation rights.

In cases where this is not an option, custody is most often given to other relatives—perhaps the grandparents of the child. This often happens when the parent is psychiatrically hospitalized.

Another option, which is used less often, is to put the child into foster care. As with all decisions regarding custody, the best interests of the child are the main defining factor.

Be sure you know your rights if you're in a situation where mental health and custody are being considered.

Source: Mental Health America, "Parenting," accessed Dec. 21, 2015

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