Can My Depression Affect My Parenting Plan?

The lead up to a divorce can cause turmoil for everyone involved—and may even push some into depression.

If you are a parent living with depression, you may be concerned about whether or not your mental health can play a factor in retaining parental responsibility of your children.

What does a judge consider for a parenting plan?

When creating a parenting plan, a judge will primarily consider each parent’s ability to:

  • Nurture a stable relationship with the children
  • Provide for the children’s needs
  • Help with education
  • Make sound decisions
  • Provide financial support

Struggling with mental health does not automatically make you a bad parent. Judges create parenting plans in the best interest of the child. So, as long as your depression doesn’t affect your ability to meet these criteria, it should not play a factor in a judge’s decision.

When can depression affect the parenting plan?

When two parents cannot come to an agreement about parenting terms, there is likely to be some level of animosity between the two. Going to court puts the power to make decisions for the kids out of both parents’ hands and into a judge’s. This naturally may make the situation combative and may cause one spouse to use the other’s mental health as a weapon in the court case.

It is important to remember that not all depression cases are the same, and there are certain behaviors that will be viewed more negatively than others. Some of these behaviors include:

  • Self-harm: Practicing self-harm may indicate a severe level of depression that would affect one’s ability to establish a stable and loving relationship with their child.
  • Self-medicating: Medicating symptoms by abusing alcohol or other substances may also be viewed negatively by the court.
  • Prescription abuse: Even if a patient is prescribed drugs to combat depression, abusing these pills may show an inability to exercise good judgement.
  • Extreme lethargy: Reduced energy levels is one of the most common symptoms of depression. This symptom will affect a parenting plan if it prevents a parent from being able to adequately provide care for their child.

Seeking help

While medical and psychological professionals can help you recover from depression, a divorce attorney can help you make a case for your parental capability.

Regardless of anything you may be struggling with, you are still your child’s parent. Seeking proper representation can help you best present your case and prevent your spouse from using your depression against you.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.

Latest posts by The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC (see all)