Bringing up the issue of mental illness during custody negotiations is emotionally charged. It will almost surely place more strain on your relationship.

However, if you legitimately believe that a mental illness may exist, you must act in the best interest of the safety of your children & address the issue appropriately.

1. Tell your attorney about your concerns right away. Be very specific about why you think that mental illness is a factor. Keep detailed notes of any incidents, including dates and as many details as possible. For example, has your spouse threatened suicide? Does he/she admit to being depressed? Be clear about exactly how you think your spouse's illness, if it exists, could affect his or her ability to parent safely and effectively.

2. Provide your attorney with the names and contact information of any doctors that your spouse uses for medical care. It's possible that your spouse has already been diagnosed with a mental disorder -- in which case your attorney may be able to subpoena the doctor's notes or testimony if no other evidence is available.

3. Be prepared to file a request with the court for a mental health evaluation. Family courts usually have the ability to compel someone to submit to psychological testing if there's no other evidence available. While this can help you get a formal diagnosis to enter into the record, realize that this is probably not going to make your relationship with your spouse go any easier for the time being.

4. Be prepared to undergo psychological testing yourself. False allegations of mental illness are a common weapon in family court, so the judge may also want to get an expert's take on your mental stability. -- Just in case.

5. Be open to compromise. Mental illness or not, your spouse is still your children's other parent. Unless you believe that any contact is potentially dangerous, be open to solutions like supervised visitation, or visitation that's contingent on your spouse getting treatment for his/her condition.

For A Free Consultation Contact: Ryan K McFarland • 1 (931) 919-4376

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