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Will My Bipolar Diagnosis Cost Me Child Custody?

 Posted on April 11, 2024 in Parenting

Waukesha, WI child custody lawyerWhen it comes to questions about child custody, the general rule is that Wisconsin law will side with whatever is in the child’s best interest. That being said, there are a host of factors that can affect that, which is why it is best to direct any questions to an experienced family law attorney.

One of the factors that can sometimes affect child custody arrangements is the mental health of relevant parties, including the child. This is still a very nuanced issue, however, and no Wisconsin law discriminates against a parent for having a mental disorder. If that parent’s behavior affects the child negatively, however, the diagnosis may come up in court.

It is important to note that if you already have a child custody arrangement and then are diagnosed with a mental disorder, that alone is not likely to cost you parenting time. If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, however, your co-parent may attempt to use it against you.

What Do Courts Consider in a Child Custody Dispute?

Understanding how courts approach child custody decisions may give you an idea of what difference a psychiatric disorder might make, if any. 

By default, Wisconsin law prefers to split parenting time evenly between both parents. However, if one parent believes he or she should have the lion’s share of parenting time, a court will look at several factors, including:

  • The mental health of all parties

  • The income of both parents

  • The child’s wishes

  • Any reports of abuse or neglect

  • The child’s educational and developmental needs

  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs

  • Cooperation and communication between the parents

Will the Court Count My Mental Disorder Against Me?

A court is unlikely to count your psychiatric disorder against you if you check all the other boxes in terms of being congruent with the child’s interest. What can hurt your cause, however, is if a diagnosis is used together with other shortcomings that may paint a negative picture of you.

For example, there is nothing legally wrong with having bipolar disorder. However, if you have a criminal record, have trouble keeping steady employment, have a history of substance abuse, and/or have ever been neglectful of the child, being diagnosed with bipolar can be unhelpful.

On the other hand, if you are an exemplary parent and have created an environment that will help your child thrive, a court is unlikely to make a big deal about a bipolar diagnosis. However, if your co-parent attempts to use it against you, a judge may order a psychiatric evaluation to make sure you are not a danger to the child.

Contact a Waukesha, WI Family Lawyer

If you have a psychiatric diagnosis that you are concerned may affect your parenting time, the first step is to contact a skilled Brookfield, Wisconsin family law attorney. A lawyer who is experienced in child custody issues can help explain whether your disorder may be an issue for a family law judge. The experienced attorneys at Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP offer free consultations and are available 24/7. Call them at 262-232-6699 today.

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