Can Mental Health Issues Be Used Against You In a Child Custody Dispute?

Child Custody

Infographic Text: Can mental health issues be used against you in a child custody dispute?

Yes, but only if your condition affects your ability to parent your child.  You are more likely to lose custody if your diagnosis has caused you to:

  • Neglect your child’s basic needs.
  • Have episodes of aggression or self-harm.
  • Be unable to function independently.
  • Create an environment that is unsafe for children.

A diagnosis alone cannot cause you to lose custody of your child. Plenty of adults with mental health issues can be safe and attentive parents. For example, if a parent is managing their bipolar symptoms in therapy and has no history of abusive behavior, then a judge is unlikely to deny them custody.

Seeking therapy for your symptoms will likely help you in a custody case. Getting treatment shows you are taking steps to address any behavioral issues. While therapy won’t guarantee you retain custody after a divorce, it can reduce your symptoms and help you be a better parent overall.


  1. Jones, G. (2017, March 9). How mental illness impacts child custody: What you need to know. Retrieved from
  2. Kvarnstrom, E. (2017, May 2). Mental illness and child custody: The impact of treatment. Retrieved from

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Bella M.

    December 17th, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    This is such an important thing to be discussing. Thank you for sharing
    wildflower therapy team

  • john

    January 19th, 2019 at 8:57 AM

    Thanks, for sharing this information with us. I really found this helpful and I also believe that diagnosis alone cannot cause you to lose custody of your child.

  • christopher crane

    December 20th, 2020 at 6:19 PM

    i wish i knew about this and other things concerning adoption,mine is an open 1,a family my mom knows had my daughter,shes 6 now and they adopted her after she was born and released from the hospital,i have mental illness but a good man,i have anger issues,and i grew up with law enforcement in my family,im 47 now,and a very good man,me and my daughters mom were just dating,and both have mental illness but hers is way worse then me,but we had payees/social workers and as soon as she got pregnant with my daughter even before she had her we were 1 made to get a car cuz they were worried about weather,2 take parenting classes which is fine same as a car,3 work with a nurse that deals with pregnant moms,which is fine,4 work with a fake baby that just made noise,and 5 made us get rid of our cat because they thought it would pee all over her (mark) attack her like a pitbull,and lay on her face so she cant breathe and kill her that way,we did all these things and were promised a chance but were lied to and screwed,and were forced to put her up for open adoption,they made us by using bribery etc to sign and give up our rights,they even threatened if we try to fight back even after it was over no matter her age we would never be able to be in her life anymore,i can see her mom having a hard time but why am i not given a chance to be heard and why are they all refusing to find out legally if this can legally change atleast or not and verify this cat issue which even my own vet thinks that shouldntve been used in court in the 1st place,her mom ran off with another man after the adoption,so ive been alone since,i dont have these social workers but have a different payee now,so is there a way i can find out im always low/broke having trouble finding work cuz of discrimination and no transportation,so i live in wisconsin,so i just wanna know what can i legally do or if its possiable to try to get her back she was in school since 3 and loves it so right now i dont wanna take her from that i mainly wanted times of the year when she has no school,there is a school right down the road from me so she could go there if need be but i just wanna know if it just can be changed so i can have more time with her at times in the year that she doesnt have to legally be in school,and noone wants to try to legally find out

  • HH

    June 6th, 2021 at 7:47 PM

    So in California, Did you know that during divorce, after signed 50/50 joint custody agreements, your ex-spouse can submit anything he/she wants in writing (even if it’s completely false) and the courts will take complete custody away from the mother and force a lawyer spending frenzy. ANd after that has happened, there’s almost no way to get previously agreed and practiced joint custody back without spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And even then, the ex-spouse still has the upper hand because they submitted stories to a horrible system that doesn’t protect or serve anyone but itself. Can someone please speak to the therapy and emotional needs of having a child taken from a completely fit, capable, stable mother (who raised that child from birth by paying for nannies so she could work and provide income since the ex-spouse said it was too hard for them to care for a baby/toddler/child by themselves after daycare was over). No reason other than vengeance, and trying to soak up child support (which is the only thing a lawyer did since we both made equal amounts of a lot of money). Where is the psychology and therapy needed for real people involved with corruption and lies? Why is the only thing in the internet about loss of custody, talk about the mother must be unfit or unstable? This sexist, patriarchal nonsense is perpetuating the laziness of society. I feel for women who struggle with mental health, because I know this has caused me extreme issues, but no one is helping any of the real problems out there. I wish I would’ve said my child’s father is suffering from mental instability and then I’d have my custody. It’s causing an overshadow for what’s real in society and what’s abused. How about we address the emotional implications for everyone that loses custody of a child, without preceding it by “something must be wrong with the mother” of that happens. Stick to the therapy and the effects and how hard it is, regardless of circumstances. For any mother to lose primary custody of a child, feels like loss and death and grief. A never ending cycle every time you have to send your child away, after only a day or two to be a mother again.

  • Debbie

    January 4th, 2023 at 1:20 PM

    From my unfortunate experience sadly to say the least we have the moist corrupt child system in the world. Their is a treaty that has to do with children that every country part of the UN has signed but america go figure. Also from my experiance if you seek therapy through someone that contracts with DSHS it matters nothing of the truth as part of their unwritten contract is that the provider agreed to provide the social worker with the report that they request not an honest report. It all breaks down to one thing THE CORRUPT ADOPTION BONUS!! They spend lioke 3 trillion yearly on it more then anything else in congress, including our National Defense! Look into it. This is ridiculous I believe the only thing Americans can do now is consistently send letters to the UN as well as contact ACLU or Americans with disability act people or both. With much sorrow in my heart, I can not provide an answer with more hope, but I provide TRUTH! It’s an unfortunate TRUTH my fellow parents.

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