Ask a Lawyer: Bipolar Wife and Custody

Question:

I’ve been married almost ten years and have a 5-year-old girl and a two-year-old son.
My wife is diagnosed as bipolar, and she’s gotten much worse since our second child was born. She takes her medications and holds down a good job, but is verbally abusive to me and children. Her moods are wildly inconsistent, and despite a tenuous financial situation she spends extravagantly and it pushing us to bankruptcy.
I love her, but I can no longer cope with her disease. I fear that growing up in this environment will hurt my children immensely.
My wife has suicidal thoughts and in the past, homicidal thoughts toward the children. She has come home from therapy sessions and told me her doctor recommended I lock up or disable firearms in the home.
I’m worried that despite the fact she isn’t physically abusive, in the midst of a divorce preceding she will become a danger to herself and the children. I understand I would run a good chance at getting primary custody, but wanted any advice you can give on my actual odds.
Also, I’m wondering if I were granted primary custody, would I be allowed to move out of state with the children without my wife’s consent? Thanks much. Brian

Answer:

Allow me to preface my answer to your question with the fact that I am not licensed to practice law in Colorado. I can not give you odds, no one can. The courts have discretion in determining what is in the best interests of your children with respect to custody. You definitely have a good case considering her instability. I suggest you talk to her doctor, have her sign a release so he can talk to you. His opinion and the records he has kept will be a very important part of your case. Generally it is not considered to be in the children’s best interest to live in another state than one of their parents. The court will have to determine if it is in their best interest to be so far from their mom.
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