On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Domestic Violence on Thursday, September 8, 2016.
If you suffer from a mental illness, your life is filled with challenges. And this is especially true if you have a child. But just having issues does not preclude you from being a loving and capable parent. Unfortunately, if you should become embroiled in a contentious divorce, your condition could be used against you for custody purposes.
Missouri, along with around 30 other states, can apply a concept known as “predictive neglect” when considering if a parent should maintain custody of his or her child. Essentially, a court can terminate your parental rights if it decides that your mental illness renders you incapable of providing a safe environment for your child.
A court will render its decision based on recommendations made by evaluators. But often the evaluators do not observe the parents and children at home. They may also fail to look at an individual’s parenting record. Instead, the evaluation will be based on case notes and psychological test results.
A leading researcher on the topic of parents who suffer from mental illness states that these evaluations are frequently incomplete. Moreover, she says that the diagnosis will overshadow what is actually transpiring in real life.
If your ability to parent your child is being challenged and you are facing an evaluation, it is very important that you be prepared to make the best possible impression on the evaluators. An experienced family law attorney could help you prepare for your evaluation and represent your personal interests with those who are part of the decision-making process.