Bipolar disorder impacts more than the person diagnosed with this mental illness. It can impact their family, including their children. The good news is that it's a manageable disorder, and people—parents—with bipolar disorder can lead normal lives. But what if you're bipolar and facing a child custody battle? Will your illness lessen your chances of winning?
No Parent Is Perfect
First, get this thought firmly engrained in your mind: No parent is perfect!
No parent is an exception to this rule. Although you may feel like you are being examined on a subatomic level, you are going through the exact same process every parent before you has endured—bipolar or not.
Child custody proceedings dig deep into the parents. They assess parenting style and decision-making prowess. Bipolar disorder leaves sufferers prone to severe mood swings, but how you deal with this may not even be a factor in gaining custody.
The Best Interests of Your Child
The court is tasked with determining the best parent based on the best interests of your child. Your mental illness is not the only factor to be considered, and it may not even be a player if:
- You successfully manage your illness with therapy and medication.
- You have never endangered your child because of your illness.
- You are mentally sound.
Who gains primary or sole custody hinges on more than these three things. The judge will take into consideration which parent can best provide for the child physically and emotionally.
When Bipolar Is Used As a Strategy
What if your mental illness is used as a reason to deny custody? Be prepared for the possibility of it being made the central focus on the case. The other parent may try to force the illness as grounds to deny or limit custody.
In such a case, avoid becoming overly emotional. This will be especially hard for you, but you can succeed! You may find it beneficial to have more frequent therapy sessions before and during the custody proceedings. If you can prove that your illness has been and is remaining well managed, you can defeat this strategy.
Can you get custody if you are bipolar? Yes, but you may need help. Look into legal representation and find a family law attorney who has won cases similar to yours.
You don't have to be the picture-perfect parent to win a custody battle. In the end, being a good parent and putting your child's needs above all else is what matters most.