Divorces or parenting time trials can be difficult enough without calling into question someone’s mental health. When an accusation is empty and anger-based, it wastes everyone’s time and resources. Moreover, it may frustrate the judge who ultimately determines each parent’s responsibilities and time with their child.
However, in some custody disputes, a parent’s mental health is a genuine concern. If a parent suffers from untreated depression, anxiety, or any other psychological disorder, his or her behavior could affect, even harm, their children. When this issue arises, Illinois law offers a way for a parent to safely and objectively raise the issue in court.
Carefully Consider How to Raise the Issue
People often behave in ways with which we do not agree, particularly during a divorce or custody battle. Because of disagreements, resentment, and anger, it is not unusual for parents to toss around words like “crazy,” “insane” or “unwell.” Sometimes, in a difficult situation, illogical behavior becomes a catalyst for throwing out accusations of mental illness.
Yet despite how parents feel about each other, unwarranted and unfounded accusations can be detrimental to the child as well as the accusing parent’s request for parental responsibilities and time. If a judge see the accusations as malicious, this can look unfavorably on that parent.
If one parent truly believes the other may have a mental illness, it is best to bring up the issue with his or her attorney first and not publicly accuse the other person of being crazy or ill. An experienced child custody lawyer will know how to proceed in court.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215
If one parent is genuinely concerned about the mental well-being of the other parent and how it could affect his or her child, that parent can seek to have the other person examined by a doctor.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215 allows a parent to bring a motion in court that questions the physical or mental condition of the other party. Depending on the evidence presented, the judge can order that the other party have a physical or mental examination by a licensed professional in a related discipline. For instance, if a parent’s mental health is in question, then he or she should be examined by a psychologist. The trial court has discretion in approving or denying this motion, and judges take it very seriously. A judge will not needlessly subject a parent to an exam.
If the motion is granted, the party who asks for the examination is the person responsible for the physician’s fees and any wages the other party loses in order to be examined.
It is important to note that no individual is perfect. The psychologist may find issues the person should explore in therapy or might diagnose the parent with a mental disorder. In either case, that parent will not automatically lose parenting responsibilities or custody.
Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney
If a parent does have a diagnosed and treated condition, that parent is not less likely to receive parental responsibilities and time because of having a mental illness. However, accusations of an untreated illness that could negatively affect the child could become an issue in court if not handled properly.
If you need assistance, please reach out to a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney today. The skilled professionals at our office are eager to help you with your family law needs. Call 630-665-7676 today.