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How Do Mental Health Issues Impact Child Custody?


Tens of millions of people are affected by mental health issues across the United States. In Florida, mental health matters have the potential to impact multiple areas of a divorce, including child custody and visitation. If you are interested in learning more about how the mental health of you or the other parent could impact a child custody case, call or contact the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa Bay today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida family law attorney.

Determining the Best Interests of the Child 

When making decisions about child custody and visitation, the Florida court is required to view this determination through the lens of what is in the best interests of the child. One of the factors weighed in this determination is whether a parent suffers from mental illness, and whether that mental illness is so significant that it impacts the parent’s ability to properly care for their child. In many cases, if the mental health issues are mild or are being managed well by treatment it may have no effect on a child custody outcome. However, if the court does believe that a parent’s mental health is negatively impacting their ability to parent, this issue can adversely impact that parent’s custody outcome.

Custody Options 

There are many options available to the court for child custody and visitation when a judge determines that a parent’s mental illness is impacting their ability to care for their child. One of the most common options is to order supervised visitation between a mentally ill parent and their child with a neutral third party present to observe. Other options include prohibiting overnight visits or requiring that parent to seek ongoing mental health treatment in order to continue to spend time with their child.

In the most serious situations, where a parent’s mental illness issues are severe or they pose a danger to the child’s health and safety, the court may award sole custody to the other parent. With sole custody, one parent retains all physical and legal custody of the child. The mentally ill parent does not have any right to see their child or provide input as to their upbringing. A court may also order sole custody to one parent who submits a modification of an existing joint custody agreement if a parent’s mental illness issues get worse over time after the initial custody agreement is decided. To learn more about how mental health matters may impact your child custody case, talk to our office today.

Call or Contact Blair H. Chan, III 

Mental illness affects many families, and it could have an impact on your child custody case. If you are interested in speaking with a knowledgeable Tampa family law attorney about how this issue may affect your child custody case, call the office or contact us at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III today to schedule a consultation.



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