Mental illness is a very important issue in many family law cases. In Virginia, statutes require that judges consider certain factors when determining child custody, spousal support and the distribution of marital property. One factor that the judge must consider in all of these cases is the mental condition of the parties involved. A party’s mental illness may therefore affect the judge’s decision in such cases. It is critical that your attorney understand the nature of the party’s mental illness, the impact it has on the party’s life and behavior, and the way it may affect the client’s case.
Mental health issues may be relevant to the monetary aspects of family law cases. For example, when a party is seeking spousal support, the judge must consider the mental condition of both parties in determining how much support to award and how long the support should continue. Similarly, the judge must consider the mental condition of both parties in making a determination as to the distribution of marital property and marital debts. When children are involved, a parent’s mental illness may be relevant to the amount of child support the court will award. The judge has discretion to consider the ability of each parent to provide child support, including such factors as each parent’s earning capacity, financial resources, and special needs. If a parent is suffering from a mental illness, this may affect the judge’s evaluation of that parent’s ability to provide child support.
Often most importantly, mental illness may be relevant when custody is at stake. The mental illness of a parent can impact the custody arrangement ordered by the court. The judge’s decision in custody cases must be based on the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, the court is required to consider the mental condition of each parent. When you are involved in a custody dispute and are suffering from a mental illness or are facing an opposing party who is suffering from a mental illness, The Mental Health Law Group can assist you.
Mental health issues range in type, severity and implication, and every case presents unique issues. Whatever the nature of the mental health issues in your family law case, our attorneys have relationships with mental health professionals and have experience working with these professionals to further each client’s case.