Custody and Child’s Special Mental Health Needs

Family law cases are some of the most bitterly fought issues in civil court.  The reason for this is the deeply personal nature of the litigation.  Family law touches on how you deal with your money, your income, your debt, and parenting time for your children.  Child custody is frequently the most challenging part of a family law case, as most people place their children and their well-being above any other issue.  If your child has special mental health issues or needs, your custody case may be a bit different than some other more run of the mill custody inquiries.

In Minnesota, a court will make a child custody or parenting time determination based on what is in the child’s best interest.  Deciding this will require the judge to look at a variety of factors.  Two of the factors that are the most relevant if your child has special mental health issues are listed as “a child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements of the child’s needs and development;” and “any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services.”  These factors make it clear that a judge will be required to consider the specific needs of the child.  This definitely will also include the particularized needs for your child’s mental health.  Accordingly, if you are facing a child custody case, you will need to ensure that you produce proof to the court about the exact requirements and nature of your child’s mental health issues.  You will also need to produce a particular plan for how you intend to address these issues going forward.  If your child receives frequent therapy and medication, for example, to address his or her mental health issues, you will want to produce proof of how you intend to make sure those needs are still being met after the divorce or separation.  Producing proof and evidence concerning how these needs were met in the past is also very important.  For example, if you have always been the one responsible for corresponding with the mental health providers and taking the child to and from the appointments, the court is likely to give weight to those facts in making a custody determination.

If you have questions about your child, his or her needs, and how a court is likely to handle those issues, call us today at 651-371-9117.  We can talk with you about case and your child.

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