Unlike a broken bone or a head cold, mental illness is not obvious, not passing and not mostly an inconvenience. When you believe someone you care about suffers from an emotional disorder, it is quite upsetting.
When that person is your former spouse with whom your minor children regularly spend time, it is more than upsetting. It is potentially dangerous as well as a destructive influence for your children.
How can I address an issue like this?
As you consider your options, perhaps the best way to proceed is to make a mental list of what not to do:
- Do not try to counsel your ex. Not only does this tend to open old wounds but it is likely to exacerbate the situation.
- Do not assume blame for the affliction. Remember that people react differently to change and no California judge would intentionally commit children to a dangerous situation.
- Do not allow your emotions to rule. Remain observant, objective and rational. The more engaged and at peace you can be, the more helpful you are for your children and the situation.
How does the state determine if a setting is safe for children?
While mental illness is a complex circumstance, California legal processes for the care of the children of divorce are pretty clear cut. Judges have a set of standards by which they evaluate a parent’s ability to care for a child.
Though a change in custody or forced removal from one parent’s care may be upsetting to both child and parent, providing a stable, nurturing home environment is invariably in everyone’s best interest.