How Does a Mental Illness Affect Visitation Rights?

When it comes time for a judge to determine custody and visitation rights, the child’s (or children’s) well-being takes priority. The court will always choose in favor of the child’s physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional well-being, and custody and visitation will be granted accordingly. The determining factors of visitation rights are often based on the non-custodial parent’s:

  • Living location in proximity to the custodial parent (as well as the non-custodial parent’s relatives).
  • History of criminal behavior (if any).
  • History of substance abuse (if any).
  • History of child abuse and neglect (if any).
  • History of mental health disorders (if any).

It can seem entirely unfair for a mental health disorder to determine whether or not a parent will be able to visit their child on a regular basis, but that is often one of the factors that the court considers. After all, parents who suffer from certain mental illnesses pose a potential threat to their children’s mental and emotional well-being, according to various research.

If you suffer from a mental illness and are fighting for your parental rights, one of the more positive steps you can take is to participate in therapy in order to ensure you are doing all you can to help handle the condition you are dealing with.

Mental Illnesses Are More Common than You May Think

At some point in their lives, 10 to 25 percent of women are diagnosed with major depression, while five to 12 percent of men are diagnosed with major depression. Additionally, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses, 18 percent of Americans have an anxiety disorder, 2.6 percent of the population lives with bipolar disorder, and 1.1 percent of the population lives with schizophrenia. One in 25 Americans have a serious mental illness. 

Mental illnesses often have quite serious ramifications for an individual’s professional and home life. It is reported by some studies that 70 percent of parents living with a mental illness have lost custody of their children. And children who have a parent with a mental illness are more likely to develop psychological problems, though, many mental illnesses are genetic. However, not all mental illnesses have the same impact on a person’s life. The debilitating effects of depression or bipolar II are almost always much less than that of schizophrenia. It may be that the court sees that the non-custodial parent is no risk at all to their child.

Contact a Therapist Today

Dealing with mental illness not only affects your day to day life but can have major impact on all areas of your life. If you are dealing with custody issues because of your condition, the stress from this situation can actually exacerbate the situation. Meeting and working with a therapist can help you work through these issues, as well as help show the court that you have control over your condition. 


Source: Family Counseling Sterling, VA, Lindsay Hoskins & Associates