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Colorado Child Custody Lawyer Discusses Mental Illness and Parenting

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

If you are seeking a divorce and you or your spouse suffer from some form of mental illness, a Colorado Child Custody lawyer can help you understand your rights according to Colorado law.

In some states, mental illness can be cited as condition that may lead to the loss of parental rights.  As a result, many parents suffering from mental illness will avoid seeking treatment because they fear losing their custodial rights.  Custody loss occurs as high as 80% of the time for parents with mental illness.  Studies have shown that several other differences are common among families who are dealing with divorce and mental illness.  If mental illness prevents a parent from properly protecting their children, it often results in loss of parental rights.


Research has shown that:

  • Only a surprising one-third of children with a parent suffering from serious mental illness are being raised by that parent. 
  • Grandparents and other close relatives are likely to become frequent caregivers when one parent is psychiatrically hospitalized, but many children end up being placed in foster care.
  • In the state of New York, 16% of families with children in foster care include a parent with a mental illness.

The most common reason states reduce or eliminate custody rights for a mentally ill parent is the severity of their illness, and the absence of other competent adults in the home.  While mental illness by itself is not a sufficient reason to declare a parent unfit, symptoms of the illness and adverse side effects from medications often demonstrate unfitness in parents. 

Unfortunately, the loss of custody can be so traumatic; it can actually make the illness worse, which could prevent a parent from ever regaining custody.  Even though all people have the right to bear children and raise them without government interference, states may intervene in family life if it is done to protect children from danger, neglect or abuse. 

If you have questions about how mental illness might affect your parenting plan, consult with a Colorado Springs Child Custody lawyer

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