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Should A Parent’s Mental Health Issues Play A Role In Child Custody Cases?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2020 | Child Custody

That parents often struggle to develop a child custody arrangement during divorce is no surprise. After all, how do you go from building a life together, sharing daily responsibilities, to seeing your children a few times each week?

Despite the complexity and heartbreak involved with an essential loss of parenting time, it’s vital to put the best interests of the children first. But, what does that mean, and how might your rights factor into the decision?

Determining factors in a child’s best interests

There’s no precise legal definition or formula for what’s best for your kids. However, when establishing a parenting time order, a court can consider factors such as a child’s:

  • Preference for their living arrangements
  • Adjustment to their community, school and home environments
  • Current relationships – with both parents as well as siblings and friends

A judge can also take into consideration any abuse or neglect on behalf of either parent.

Additionally, parental physical and mental health can factor into a decision. Yet, some believe a public court review of private medical records violates a patient’s rights.

Confidential health records made public in court

Last June, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that parents seeking custody waive their confidentiality.

Reportedly, the law allows both physical and mental health to enter into a child custody decision-making process, thereby overriding physician-patient privilege. Therefore, the court allowed a man to present his former wife’s mental health records.

What the woman’s medical records included is unknown. However, the court opinion does leave certain questions unanswered. For example:

  • Where might a parent’s rights end, in terms of what’s best for their child?
  • Could this decision prevent parents from seeking necessary psychological help?
  • Will this lead to future legislative changes to current laws?

Considering the controversy involved with this case, it may be difficult to predict how parent and child interests could intersect in the future.



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