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Family Law Courts Want Evidence, Not Just Promises


Addiction has destroyed many marriages, and it is devastating for everyone involved, not least among them the addicted person himself.  A diagnosis of a mental illness, whether it is substance use disorder or any other diagnosis, does not take away your right to be involved in your children’s lives.  The court makes decisions about parenting decisions based on the best interests of the children, not to punish or reward either parent.  If your state of mental health makes it impossible for you to provide adequate care for your children, though, the court may reduce your parenting time or require another adult to also be present when the children are with you.  The court may also require you to follow your doctors’ recommendations for managing your mental health, such as taking your medication as prescribed or attending counseling sessions.  If you comply with these requirements, the court will review your case to see whether it is appropriate to award you unsupervised parenting time or to increase the parenting time you already have.  If you are living with a mental illness and your ex-spouse is trying to use it against you in your child custody case, contact a South Florida child custody lawyer.

What Does It Mean to Show That You Are Working on Your Mental Health?

Robert and Melanie both lived and worked in Virginia when they met, and they married there in 2002.  The biggest problem in their marriage was Robert’s mental health issues, which manifested themselves in depressive episodes and compulsive gambling.  Sometimes Robert would stay in bed for days at a time and refuse to interact with the family.  Things got worse when Robert lost his job; by 2011, he had gambled away most of the couple’s savings, which had once been substantial.  The couple decided that the best way to recover financially was to move to Florida with their two young children.  Melanie remained with her same job; her employer allowed her to travel back and forth between Florida and Virginia for work.

Things did not get better once they got to Florida, and after a series of ultimatums about Robert entering addiction treatment, Melanie filed for divorce in 2014.  She requested the court’s permission to move back to Virginia with the children.  Robert objected to Melanie’s decision to move.  In his response to her petition, he argued that he would attend Gamblers’ anonymous meetings, undergo mental health counseling, take any medications prescribed to him by psychiatrists, and exercise his parenting time as agreed.  The court noted that he had also promised to do these things before and after Melanie filed for divorce, but he had yet to deliver on his promises.  He had gambled on several occasions while the divorce was pending, and three days before the trial, he had called Melanie to pick him up in the middle of the night after he got pulled over for suspected DUI.  The court reasoned that promising to manage your mental health is not the same thing as managing it.  Therefore, the court granted Melanie’s request to move to Virginia with the children.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you persuade the court that it is in your children’s best interests for both parents to stay in Florida.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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