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Would seeking help for depression now negatively impact me in a custody battle later?

(5 Posts)
OperatingWithoutASafetyNet Sat 22-Mar-14 08:54:46

I'm really looking for anyone with real-life experience of courts factoring in depression/anxiety when making decisions in custody hearings? Has anyone ever had their mental health record cited as a reason for the other parent to be granted residency / more visitation?

I'm going through an amicable divorce at the moment. So far STBXH I have been cooperating well together (we both want and have agreed 50:50 shared custody), but I'm acutely aware that DD is only 2yo and right now neither my ex nor I have a new partner yet. I'm sure our situations will change significantly over the next 16 years, and I would never assume we'll definitely remain in agreement every step of the way. If it ever came to a vicious custody battle in the future, I just want to make sure I don't do anything that could potentially be used against me.

The issue isn't whether or not I get help for my depression - that's long overdue now and I have to do something before it potentially starts to impact DD. The question is whether I go down the private medical insurance route - with full doctor support and access to prescriptions etc if they deem that to be helpful/necessary - but then there's a huge paper trail and anyone who accesses my record would be able to immediately see that I have had these issues. Or I could quietly go to a private counsellor, pay out of my own (almost empty!) pocket, and keep it all off the books. The only reason I would self-fund (which would be financially very difficult) is because I'm so worried having a paper trail could be used against me in a future custody battle?

Would anyone be willing to share their own experience of this issue? Am I being sensible or paranoid?

NoNoNoMYDoIt Sat 22-Mar-14 09:09:46

OP- sorry to hear about your situation I have been in a similar situation. Ex tried to use my mental health as a reason for me being unfit parent but as long as you seek treatment and stick to it, he has no case. If you had diabetes or arthritis you wouldn't hesitate to get treatment and would be considered irresponsible if you tried to cover it up or avoid the treatment.

So although MH issues "seem" different - they aren't. If you don't seek help and struggle and DD is affected by your condition - and he can prove it - he may have a point. If you seek help, get better and all is well - then fantastic.

How many parents up and down the country have depression / anxiety/ other MH problems? It is not a reason for a court to award him residence - unless you don't address it and dd suffers badly

Good luck OP. You may find that the gp provision is limited and you have to wait a long time. Our waiting list is a year. I went privately.

creativevoid Sun 23-Mar-14 19:54:21

Also you would need to give permission for your medical records to be accessed, so I don't think it could be used against you from a practical perspective.

NigellasDealer Sun 23-Mar-14 19:58:15

you do not have to give permission for that if it is about the interests of a child in your care. just saying.
i do not think that would be used against you though OP

creativevoid Sun 23-Mar-14 20:49:32

I don't know the legal ins and outs. Iv based my comment on my own situation, where H admitted his abuseive behaviour toward me and our son to gp but I was told by my solicitor we would not be able to get access to this as he would have to consent.

I agree with everyone else's point that there is absolutely no shame in getting treatment for depression and I can't see how that could be used against you.

I do have experience fighting over the children in court (see first paragraph) and random facts that don't directly pertain to the care of the children don't have much weight. Also the status quo carries a lot of weight and will be difficult to change once it is in place.

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