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Wheaton divorce lawyer for parenting time and mental health issuesDealing with mental illness during divorce is not an uncommon issue. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 51.5 million people, or around one in five adult Americans, live with some type of mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. While most adults who live with these illnesses find ways to adapt and cope with everyday life, divorce can be a particularly difficult period of time, especially if it involves conflict between spouses. One of the biggest issues that many divorcing parents disagree on is parenting time, which can be exacerbated if one parent has a mental illness. But can a parent actually lose their right to parenting time if they have a mental illness?

Determining the Best Interests of the Child

Any action that the court takes or decision is made involving children must be done based on the child’s best interests.  It is not of the opinion of the state of Illinois that having a mental illness, in general, means that you should not have parenting time or that you should be subject to any restrictions to your time with your children. However, a judge does have the authority to do so if he or she feels that the mental illness would endanger your child’s mental, emotional, physical, or moral well-being.

Mental Illness and Caring for Your Child

Determining parenting time when a parent has a mental illness is done on a case-by-case basis. Mental illnesses range in severity and do not affect all people in the same way. For example, a parent who has schizophrenia might pose more of a danger to their child than a parent with anxiety. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia also have a higher chance of causing a parent to be hospitalized or require care themselves. The judge will consider things such as the frequency of the occurrence of your mental health issues, the severity of the issues, and whether the issues would interfere with the child’s life.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn Illinois law, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are no longer used. Parenting duties now consist of parental responsibilities and parenting time. This change was made in large part to present parenting tasks as a spectrum as opposed to one parent being the “custodial parent” and the other parent as merely “visiting” the child. However, there are still cases in which it may be in the child’s best interests for one parent to have most – if not all – of the parental responsibilities and parenting time.  

The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The term “parental responsibilities” refers to how parents will make significant decisions about the child’s life. Per Illinois law, significant decisions are decisions pertaining to:

  • Education

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