How Does Mental Health Affect Custody in Georgia?
Mental health is a concern throughout the country and is often a factor in custody cases. Unfortunately, due to inherited traits, external situations or both, many individuals struggle with their mental health, which cause myriad effects like stressful situations both at work and at home, concern about that parent’s stability and concerns about the child’s wellbeing when with that parent. Sometimes those situations become so overwhelming that the person contemplates or attempts suicide. The suicide rate in Georgia has been steadily rising over the decades, although the most recent high was 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018. While this is lower than the national average, many parents may struggle with suicidal thoughts or tendencies. This is especially true during the emotional turmoil of a divorce or custody battle. If you have reason to believe that your child’s other parent has suicidal thoughts, you likely have heightened concern for your child’s safety and well-being as well as the safety and well-being of your coparent.
Georgia Courts Consider the Mental Health of Both Parents
Custody in Georgia has two aspects – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child spends time; ideally, the physical custody schedule should be one that is in the best interest of the child. Legal custody pertains to decision-making for the child. With legal custody, there are four (4) main areas in which co-parents are required to make decisions for a child: (1) education; (2) non-emergency healthcare; (3) extracurricular activities; and (4) religion. Although both parents may be considered legal custodians, the parents may not be able to agree on decisions for the child; accordingly, in these situations, one of the parents is the “tie-breaker.” In determining both physical and legal custody, Georgia Courts should consider the physical and mental health of each parent. If a parent has a documented history of mental health issues, that may cause that parent to receive less parenting time with the child or less decision-making authority. It is important to remember that this is only one potential factor impacting custody decisions. Courts are required to analyze multiple factors and not just one specific aspect when determining a child’s best interests.
Many individuals suffer from mental health related issues, yet few seek or receive treatment for them. If you believe the other parent is suffering from mental health issues, it is incumbent on you to discuss your concerns with a qualified, experienced custody attorney.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Custody Attorney in Georgia?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced Atlanta child custody attorney, look no further than Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French. We know that a parent’s mental health issues can cause serious concerns for parents in Georgia, and we’re here to help you secure for your child’s best interests. Schedule a consultation today to discuss potential action plans.