Michigan mental illness child custody divorce

My court hearing is Monday, I am seriously scared to lose my children. Please advise Thank you very much.

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I passed your contact information along to our managing attorney, Colin Amos, who will get back to you soon. In the meantime, if you have any other questions, feel free to contact our office at Are there any organizations to help a mother who is going to court concerning full custody of her daughter in March? The father is suing for full custody because of anxiety and depression. She is now on the correct medications and all is going well. The child never suffered from her mothers problems.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for reaching out. I passed your contact information along to our managing attorney, Colin Amos. The good news is, you do potentially have options. I passed your contact information on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney. He will be in touch soon and have a more in-depth answer about what you can do.

And I know for a fact it has to do with my partners depression. Mood swings. Mental illness also has a major impact on custody proceedings whether they are tied to a divorce or not. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.

The Court will have to look at how much, if any, the illness is affecting the relationship between parent and child. Many times mental illness has no effect. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. Mental illness is a major factor in divorce and custody proceedings. Divorce is Scary. We Make it Better. Mental Illness and Divorce in Mesa Based on my experience as a Divorce attorney , it seems to be more and more apparent that mental illness affects far more people and is more common than anyone realizes.

The statute and factors are listed below: Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.

Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient. The maintenance order shall be in an amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including: The standard of living established during the marriage.

The duration of the marriage. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.

Proving a Parent is Unfit in a Child Custody Case

J's mother, who was also facing the termination of her parental rights, and whose mental health, according to case notes, was deteriorating, agreed to the plan. J's mother declined to discuss the case with ProPublica, except to say she supported Rudy's effort to get custody. But Nassau County officials told Rudy that he should have laid out the plan months earlier and that because so much time had passed, federal child welfare law required them to request termination of his parental rights.

The county's records suggest that caseworkers had warned Rudy about this; Rudy said he did not understand he could lose his rights so rapidly and that he waited because he believed J's mother was going to regain custody. Caseworkers also noted that visits between Rudy and J had gotten harder as she grew older—she would often cry inconsolably; she knew her father only as the man she saw on Tuesdays and considered her foster parents her real mother and father.

But these were not the reasons Nassau County authorities listed when they petitioned a county court to sever Rudy and J's legal ties. Instead, the county filed to terminate his rights based on his mental illness. Under New York law, parents can lose their children if courts decide their mental disabilities render them incapable of parenting for the "foreseeable future.

The Nassau County Department of Social Services would not respond to questions from ProPublica about the case or any related policy issues. That office declined to comment as well and referred us back to Nassau County. The foster parents' attorney and the attorney appointed to represent J also declined to discuss the specifics of the case. In the summer of , a judge sent Rudy to Dr. Joseph Scroppo, a psychologist and attorney who has held appointments at several New York universities.

Scroppo has a contract with Nassau County to perform forensic psychological evaluations and make recommendations about whether parents should keep their children. Scroppo's evaluation was exhaustive compared with many in other parental rights cases. He met with Rudy alone for nearly 10 hours.

Then Scroppo watched Rudy interact with J for 30 minutes.

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He gave Rudy an IQ test, asked him to define words, stack blocks and read a few sentences. Rudy's "score indicates that he is probably capable of semi-independent living but would experience significant problems if he were to attempt fully independent living," Scroppo wrote. Citing Rudy's hospitalizations, Scroppo concluded that Rudy "is now, and for the foreseeable future, unable to adequately care for the subject child. During a hearing in May in Rudy's continuing parental rights case, Rudy's lawyer, who was appointed to the case when the county filed for termination, grilled Scroppo on his evaluation.

Broderick continued to push Scroppo to offer evidence from Rudy's life.

The "Best Interests of the Child" Factors

Instead, Scroppo said, "I based the [categorization of] semi-independent status on the test that I administered to him. New York's law allows mothers and fathers to present alternative evaluations in court, though funding is not always made available to pay for them. Rudy's sister and brother scraped together several thousand dollars to hire an evaluator for a second opinion. Barry Rosenfeld, a psychologist who directs clinical training at Fordham University, did not just administer tests.

He spoke to the people in Rudy's life to get a better sense of him—and pieced together a very different picture. He discovered that in the early s, Rudy shared an apartment near Tampa with Rubeka and their brother Mitchell. Mitchell had a baby boy and Rudy would take care of him. We'd go out for the night, or on the weekends, and Rudy worked less than us, so we'd leave my son with him," Mitchell said recently over the phone from Florida. Rosenfeld learned from Norma Gonzalez, a caseworker who'd met regularly with Rudy in the apartment building where he lived when J was born, that "[Rudy] successfully manages his own day-to-day needs and has done so consistently for 3 years.

Rosenfeld noted that Rudy's plan to raise J with his sister indicated not incapacity, but a responsible recognition of his own need for help. ProPublica asked a third party to read the two evaluations and to assess the soundness of their methods. He said that the two evaluators relied on different methods and assumptions. Scroppo's evaluation didn't take into account the help Rudy planned to have from his family; Rosenfeld's did.

Feldman also said that even though Scroppo's report was relatively thorough, it exhibited a common flaw: It measured mental disability in isolation from its impact on parenting. He concluded that because Rudy scored "low on cognitive and personality disorder measures, therefore he can't parent," Feldman said. Scroppo declined to speak with ProPublica about Rudy's case, citing professional obligations to confidentiality.

But he did speak in broad terms about mental health evaluations in child protective cases, which make up a significant part of his practice. Although the parent may have —and I think it would matter if they did—a team to help them, it would hinge on their ability to be responsible. The law is for me to look at the parent in and of her self.


  1. Should a Mental Illness Mean You Lose Your Kid? — ProPublica.
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  3. Mental Health Issues and Grounds for Divorce.

Academic studies have found that mental health parenting evaluations often take this self-sufficiency view of parenting. But as Feldman argues, "Nobody raises their child in a vacuum. The American Psychological Association guidelines actually encourage evaluators to reach out to "extended family members and other individuals when appropriate e.

Yet often that doesn't happen. A decade ago, DePaul University researchers reviewed evaluations from Chicago's child welfare system.

Michigan Family Law Blog

Almost none of the evaluators called on family members or others besides the parents. Often, the evaluators relied on single short interactions with parents or failed to observe them with their children.


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More recent studies by researchers in New York and at the University of California, Berkeley found similar patterns. One reason evaluations come up short is money, said Nicholson, the Dartmouth psychiatry professor who researches parents with mental illness. Or they say they can't. Taking a kid away is expensive, too. Even Scroppo agrees that these cases can be hard calls: "The severity of the mental illness is important in making any determination. And sometimes the line is not clear.

Child Custody in a Michigan Divorce: What Are The Deciding Factors? (Part 2)

When Rudy is well, he is soft-spoken and thoughtful. My dad was a good dad—he worked hard, he took care of us, and I want to do the same thing for my daughter," Rudy said last fall, after returning from work at the grocery store where he stocked shelves. He also knows he would likely struggle to raise J by himself. Rudy has bouts of numbing depression and high-paced mania.

At their worst, Rudy's manic states can flare into delusions.

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