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Mental Health in Divorce & Custody

Many people mistakenly believe that if they are fighting for custody after a Colorado divorce that if they can prove that their ex spouse has some sort of mental health issue that they have nothing to worry about during the divorce. Ill mental health can prevent a parent from getting full custody and may even limit their visitation to supervised visitation only, however the court looks at several things in making a decision about custody.

Danger to Themselves and Others

Even with cases of a parent being a danger to themselves or others it can be hard during a Colorado divorce to bring that information into court. A lot of mental healthcare information is protected information according to HIPPA laws. Because you feel that your ex spouse is a danger to themselves or to someone else without evidence of previous behaviors it can be very hard to prove.

The courts are an unbiased party and they have to be fair to everyone including someone suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. In general the premise is that if someone is being treated for a mental health disorder and they have been stabilized they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.

If you come forward and say you believe that the other party is a danger to themselves/others you will need to have some sort of proof of the accusation. Many things can be said during a divorce proceeding which are not necessarily true. Proof is always required.

The Laws

There are laws in place that you can utilize to your advantage if you believe that your ex spouse is a danger to your children because of the state of mental health.  There can be a request for a parental responsibilities evaluation which can include psychological testing.

The laws are there to protect children from being exposed to someone that has mental health issues that are yet to be treated. The laws do swing both ways and just because someone has been diagnosed with a condition that may affect their parenting ability it does not mean that the court will not award visitation or partial custody once the treatment has begun and the person is responding to the treatment.

The importance of each parents role in a child’s life is looked at as tremendous and keeping a child away from a parent is usually a last resort. The court may order treatment and offer other opportunities to a parent with mental health issues as a way to keep the parent from losing their rights.

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