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A parent’s mental health and child custody

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Firm News

Going through a divorce when a couple has children is a difficult time for everyone involved. It is especially difficult if the parents are struggling to determine who the children should live with and who should make the decisions for them.

Child custody is a sensitive issue that arises often in divorce cases. If the couple cannot come to an agreement, the court has to get involved and use certain laws to decide where the children should live, who should make decisions for the children, and anything related to the kids, including spending time with them and more.

Tennessee courts look at the best interests of the child when evaluating a child custody case. The judge’s responsibility is to ensure that the child is healthy and that whoever raises them is caring for them properly.

A parent’s mental health

If one of the parents has a mental health issue and that comes up, the court may look at it and inquire further into the matter.

If the parent has the issue under control and can prove that through medical records, a doctor’s statements, or anything else that the court asks for, it may not be an issue that the court considers heavily.

However, if the parent has an untreated mental health condition and refuses to treatment, the court may decide that the child should live with the other parent.

This does not mean that the parent who has a mental health condition cannot see their child. It simply means that the other parent will have primary custody and the other will receive visitation rights.

Options on the table

Depending on the nature and the severity of the condition, the court may decide whether visitation should take place with a third party, which would mean visitation is supervised, or whether the parent can take the child for a few hours, a day or overnight.

In essence, the court wants to ensure that the parent’s condition does not impact their ability to care for their child.

If the child is older and mature enough, the court can also speak with them and gather insight from the child. The judge may want to know if the child has a preference regarding who to live with, and why.

Other factors

In addition to mental health, the court must consider other factors, for example:

  1. Each parent’s living situation
  2. If both parents can provide the child with stability
  3. If both parents can take care of the child
  4. If the parents have a relationship and bond with the child
  5. If there is any reason for concern regarding a parent.

After the court uses these factors to decide, it will issue an order that will state what the court believes is in the best interests of the child. If circumstances change significantly, a parent or both parents may request that the court review the case again in light of new information, if they request a change in custody.


Mental health is a serious matter and the courts take it into account when making custody decisions. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle, and the court will take all factors into account to comply with the law and ensure the safety, security and happiness of the child or children in question.