Can Depression Impact Child Custody?

When someone is unhappily married, it's not unusual for them to experience feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Disappointment
  • Resentment
  • Depression, in severe cases

If you've been experiencing chronic depressive symptoms, you may feel that being in an unhappy marriage hasn't helped.

Perhaps your spouse is belittling you. Perhaps they're nitpicking everything you do, or perhaps they're having an affair or a string of affairs. In emotionally abusive marriages, it's not unusual for spouses to eventually develop uncontrollable feelings of sadness.

If you've been diagnosed with depression, you may be exhibiting one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • A loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble getting out of bed
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Not wanting to leave your home
  • Neglecting family responsibilities
  • Difficulty performing work responsibilities

My Spouse is Using My Depression Against Me

When a spouse's depression won't let up and it starts to affect everyday living, they'll often seek help from their doctor. Usually, depression is treated with antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, or psychotherapy.

It's not unheard of for a spouse to use their husband's or wife's depression against them, especially in regards to child custody. The spouse will argue, "You're moping around all the time, you can't take care of the kids" or "You can't even take care of yourself, how are you supposed to raise our children?"

"Can my spouse use my depression as ammunition against me?" In a word, yes. If your spouse raises a concern that a mental illness prevents you from properly caring for your children, the judge will be interested in what your spouse has to say, but that does not mean your spouse will win.

The judge is going to want to know:

  • Were your meds prescribed by a doctor?
  • Are you taking the meds according to your doctor's directions?
  • Are you abusing alcohol or illegal drugs?
  • Are you taking prescriptions without a valid prescription?
  • Are the medications adversely affecting your personality?
  • Is the depression affecting your ability to care for your children?

If you sought help for your depression, are following your doctor's orders, and the depression is not stopping you from taking care of your children, it should not affect your child custody case, but it's wise to have an experienced attorney from our firm help you explain this to the judge.

If your spouse is using your depression to gain an upper hand in a divorce or child custody case, we urge you to contact our Long Island divorce firm for help.