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Michigan Family Law Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mental Health Issues Do Not Have to Affect Custody

A concern that many people have when facing a possible divorce is how one's mental health may affect custody or parenting time.  There are more people that suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental or emotional difficulties than many people realize.  When it comes to divorce cases, the judges and family law practitioners often have a lot of experience in working with individuals that have to deal with these difficulties. 

These types of issues do not have to damage the person's ability to seek custody or parenting time.  It is however imperative to actively seek treatment.  It is also very important to continue with the treatment and follow all of the doctor or therapist's recommendations until such time as the counselors believe that it is no longer necesarry.  Once one recognizes the problem and enters into treatment, then the court will often accept this as reasonable and responsible and in most instances it will have little or no effect on the divorce case.

A good example of this is the case of Shimmons v Shimmons, a 2018 Michigan Court of Appeals case.  In that case, the mother of the child moved back into the home of a man with whom she was engaged after they initially separated due to the man's post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the mother's own mental health issues.  She sought treatment and so did the man. The father of the child at issue, filed a motion to change custody when they moved back in together due to the mother's past emotional and mental health difficulties and the man's PTSD.  In a previous hearing about fourteen (14) months earlier, the court found that the mother was not being frank about her mental health and that the man was "obviously a disturbed individual with significant mental illness."  However, by the time the mother and this man moved back in together, the court found that the mother ceased her treatment on the advice of her psychiatrist which was appropriate and the man was treating for his issues and was able to maintain full-time employment.  In short, the court denied the motion to change custody because each had actively pursued mental health treatment and they could provide a reasonably safe physical environment for the child.

If you or someone you know is facing a possible divorce or other custody related matter and have concerns about how past or current mental, emotional or physical health may effect the case, it is very important to have counsel that knows how to handle these issues and can guide you through the process.  Please do not hesitate to contact Cameron C Goulding at (248) 608-4123 or goulding@camerongoulding.com. 


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