How is Child Custody Affected By an Ex’s Mental Health?

Question:carrie westbrook attorney texas

My wife and I are divorcing after being married for 6 months. I believe she  has undiagnosed personality and psychological disorders. She’s also 30 weeks pregnant. I would like to file for joint custody of the child. I probably won’t fight for full custody, as I know that the odds are stacked against me.

Right now, because I’m 63 years old, I’m also receiving Social Security Retirement benefits. I understand that once my son is born, he can receive these benefits under my name.

Will the Social Security Retirement benefits eliminate or reduce the amount of child support I must pay if the judge does not grant me joint custody? Is there a way I can better prove joint custody is needed here?


Please be aware that I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of that jurisdiction and can only provide you with general tips on divorce.

In most any state, the courts in these cases are given broad powers to order a party suspected of having mental health issues to be evaluated and diagnosed in the best interest of the child. If you can prove that your wife has a mental illness and it is of the type that could affect her ability to parent the child, you may have a good chance of getting custody yourself.

Simply because you are male, while it may make the battle an uphill one, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have no basis to put up a fight for custody. As to social security, in my jurisdiction, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount you might pay in child support. It is simply something the court may, but does not have to, consider in calculating and ordering support.

Even if the court were still inclined to give your wife primary custody of the child in the event you can prove she has mental health issues, you can usually at least get some orders to protect the child. For example, you may be able to get the court to order your spouse to treatment and counseling or to be placed on prescription medications that she has to take regularly. It is worth further exploring with an attorney in your state.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Texas divorce lawyer Carrie Westbrook, contact Cordell & Cordell.


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