If you're dealing with a child custody situation where there are questions about how the safety of your children might be impacted by a mental health issue, it may be wise to consider the legal ramifications. Especially if you're a parent being accused of creating an unsafe environment due to mental health concerns, it's a smart idea to think about the problem the way a child custody lawyer services provider would. Here are three considerations that should be on your mind regardless of which side of the dispute you fall on.
How the Best Interests Standard Applies
When one parent is accusing the other parent of endangerment, they're often quick to latch on to the best interests standard. This is the legal standard the courts are required to apply in child custody cases, and it requires a judge to put the best interests of the child first.
For someone who's worried about the other parent, it's simple to assume this standard means mental health and safety issues cancel everything else out. It's important to understand that the best interests standard does not hand one side anything close to an automatic win.
The reality is quite the opposite. Instead, the best interests standard provides the person on the receiving end of allegations a fair chance to assert their parental rights. Why? The law considers it to be in the best interests of a child to regularly interact with both biological parents. For a judge to not treat this as the defining feature of a custody case, there must be massive evidence that a parent's situation is harmful to the child and can't be modified to prevent trouble even with significant effort.
Documenting What's Happening
The court wants proof that something is very, very wrong before they'll even consider a petition to limit parental rights. The fact that your ex has severe depression, for example, is not grounds to hire a child custody lawyer and immediately go to court.
When you're legitimately worried about what's going on, the most important thing is to document everything. If the police were called to the other parent's house, for example, that should be noted. Similarly, you should take pictures if there are signs of abuse.
Finding a Solution
The court will expect both parents to make their best efforts to find accommodation. If one parent has a substance use disorder, for example, they may be asked to enter counseling or detox. Termination or limitation of parental rights is only acceptable after reasonable options have been exhausted.
To learn more, contact a resource like the Cragun Law Firm.