Mental health problems affect a large number of Washington residents. For most people, these problems are not enough to prevent them from living productive lives or taking care of their families, but for others, they are. When a married couple divorces and one spouse is dealing with a mental health problem, this is something that may come up when trying to figure out child custody. Sadly, if a mental health problem is severe enough, it could prevent the affected spouse from achieving the custody arrangement he or she desires.

According to various studies on this topic, many parents with mental health issues fear seeking treatment because they worry that doing so will cause them to lose custody of their children. The sad reality is few parents with severe mental health issues, even if they are being treated, end up getting custody of their kids. However, having a mental health problem does not mean one will automatically lose custody of his or her children, and those who need professional help improving their mental health are certainly encouraged to seek it out.

If parents are unable to reach agreeable custody terms, the courts will look at a number of factors before deciding what type of custody arrangement would be appropriate for everyone. It will not take the word of one spouse over the other, and for good reason. Some of these factors include:

  • The severity of the mental illness
  • Treatment currently being received
  • Side effects of treatment
  • Risk of harm to children

At the end of the day, child custody is all about what is best for the children. If both parents are deemed fit to take care of them, then both parents may achieve some level of custody. Plenty of Washington residents with mental health problems are perfectly fit to take care of their kids — they just may need to fight a little harder to prove that in court. With the assistance of legal counsel, it is possible to fight for custody arrangements that will best benefit the entire family.