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  1. #1
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    Child custody and mental illness, Need reply ASAP!

    What is the name of your state? Maryland

    My wife who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has been off of medication for 7 months is in the process of filing for divorce. Her mental illness is well documented and it includes 4 suicide attempts and numerous hospital stays in the last 11 years. She has also had difficulty working due to her illness.

    My question is if I contest the divorce and ask for full custody of my two kids, how much if any of an advantage do I have considering her mental illness history and her current state of being off of medication? Will the judge order her to be evaluated by a Phsyciatrist to determine her mental fitness?

    I would appreciate a reply as quickly as possible.
  2. #2
    casa is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cane86
    What is the name of your state? Maryland

    My wife who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has been off of medication for 7 months is in the process of filing for divorce. Her mental illness is well documented and it includes 4 suicide attempts and numerous hospital stays in the last 11 years. She has also had difficulty working due to her illness.

    My question is if I contest the divorce and ask for full custody of my two kids, how much if any of an advantage do I have considering her mental illness history and her current state of being off of medication? Will the judge order her to be evaluated by a Phsyciatrist to determine her mental fitness?

    I would appreciate a reply as quickly as possible.
    Her mental fitness will certainly be an issue~ You'll have to prove she is diagnosed & also prove she is off her meds. When was her last hospitalization &/or suicide attempt?

    You can ask the court order a Psychiatric Evaluation- but be forewarned it is very costly. You can also ask for a Guardian Ad Litem or Law Guardian/Minor's attorney to represent your child's best interests- someone who can look into your lives and determine who would be a more fit parent for the children. (also costly, but usually not as costly as a Psychiatric Evaluation)
  3. #3
    BL
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    Quote Originally Posted by cane86
    What is the name of your state? Maryland

    My wife who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has been off of medication for 7 months is in the process of filing for divorce. Her mental illness is well documented and it includes 4 suicide attempts and numerous hospital stays in the last 11 years. She has also had difficulty working due to her illness.

    My question is if I contest the divorce and ask for full custody of my two kids, how much if any of an advantage do I have considering her mental illness history and her current state of being off of medication? Will the judge order her to be evaluated by a Phsyciatrist to determine her mental fitness?

    I would appreciate a reply as quickly as possible.
    You say she has been off meds , but is she seeing a Dr. for her mental illness .

    Also, what you have described here in and of itself , would not deem that Parent unfit .

    There is a wide range of symptoms and behaviors for that illness .

    As far as anyone here knows , that Parent could be " coherent " as of your writing . Many suffers go years leading a " Normal " life , before their illness flares up again .

    Work has nothing to do with it . That Parent could qualify for SSA benefits , and still make up to $830 per month.

    Plus meds. for this illness are not tolerated by many sufferers , that why they do not take them . Although there are newer ones out with less side effects that are reported that work well.

    I imagine the Court will want information on the status of the illness , but keep in mind , these individuals can still lead an apparent " Normal " life .

    As I stated , it all depends on the severity of the symptoms and ability of the Parent to care for the child(ren) .

    Plus , what the Court deems in " The best interest of the Child(ren ).

    We have no idea based on your post , if this Parent is stable ( fit ) or not . Given this Parent has Custody now makes a statement they are not unfit .
  4. #4
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by casa
    Her mental fitness will certainly be an issue~ You'll have to prove she is diagnosed & also prove she is off her meds. When was her last hospitalization &/or suicide attempt?

    You can ask the court order a Psychiatric Evaluation- but be forewarned it is very costly. You can also ask for a Guardian Ad Litem or Law Guardian/Minor's attorney to represent your child's best interests- someone who can look into your lives and determine who would be a more fit parent for the children. (also costly, but usually not as costly as a Psychiatric Evaluation)
    Her last suicide attempt was 2 years ago. I don't mind spending money when it comes to the best interest of my kids. Plus getting her evaluated would hopefully get her back on medication. Thanks for the information.
  5. #5
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blonde Lebinese
    You say she has been off meds , but is she seeing a Dr. for her mental illness .

    Also, what you have described here in and of itself , would not deem that Parent unfit .

    There is a wide range of symptoms and behaviors for that illness .

    As far as anyone here knows , that Parent could be " coherent " as of your writing . Many suffers go years leading a " Normal " life , before their illness flares up again .

    Work has nothing to do with it . That Parent could qualify for SSA benefits , and still make up to $830 per month.

    Plus meds. for this illness are not tolerated by many sufferers , that why they do not take them . Although there are newer ones out with less side effects that are reported that work well.

    I imagine the Court will want information on the status of the illness , but keep in mind , these individuals can still lead an apparent " Normal " life .

    As I stated , it all depends on the severity of the symptoms and ability of the Parent to care for the child(ren) .

    Plus , what the Court deems in " The best interest of the Child(ren ).

    We have no idea based on your post , if this Parent is stable ( fit ) or not . Given this Parent has Custody now makes a statement they are not unfit .
    She has not seen her Psychiatrist since she came off meds in December. Her doctor had indicated that she must remain on medication. This illness is not like any other because it deals with how a person experiences life and their view of reality. Right now she does exhibit symptoms that are consistent with someone being off of medication.

    There is absolutely no way that I will subject my kids to growing up alone in a house with someone who is schizophrenic and does not take their medication. If I have to get a lawyer to represent my kids I will. When on medication she can cope and she functions well. Off of them, she is just a time bomb waiting to explode. When off medication, she has attempted suicide and she tried it once when the kids were at home. Luckily I was also home at the time. It is difficult to predict how a person with this illness will react. However, research has clearly shown that the potential for a person to live as near a normal life as possible with this illness is greatly improved when that person regularly takes medication as prescribed.

    I do not want to deny her split custody of the kids. What I am saying is that the only way I would agree to split custody would be if she takes her medication as prescribed and regularly keep her appointments with her Psychiatrist. The reason that she is thinking that she needs a divorce is because she is off of her medications and experiencing delusions and hallucinations geared around me.
  6. #6
    casa is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cane86
    Her last suicide attempt was 2 years ago. I don't mind spending money when it comes to the best interest of my kids. Plus getting her evaluated would hopefully get her back on medication. Thanks for the information.
    I'm not sure that the event being 2 years ago will be a determining factor- but the fact that she has a history of attempts will.

    If you can afford an evaluation- Definately do it.
  7. #7
    Ron1347 is offline Member
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    I know little to nothing about the illness but, I did knew a woman many years ago with it, and she was seriously afflicted with it. Almost identical to your description of your wife and worse. She had two children. Her former husband tried to get custody of the two children. She was proven to not take her meds as prescribed, rarely attended her counseling, halucinations galore, wild-weird-whacko-off the wall conversation, living habits as strange as it gets, children even testifying to their mother's irrational behavior and practices...and it still took the father 'YEARS' to gain custody of the children. Many many a trip to court, complaints, etc. I have no clue as to 'why' it took him years, but it did! He being a good, hard working, dependable, father. This was in Michigan, for whatever that might matter. I and my family knew this person well, and we were always totally amazed and shocked that the woman was allowed to keep custody for as many years as she did. In 'our' opinions, the woman should 'never' have had custody in the first place. Have never been sure how she managed and maintained being granted it time after time after time.
  8. #8
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    I really hope that the situation you described does not happen to me. What amazes me is that they gave her custody and a Psychiatrist did not recommend medication and regular doctor visits as conditions for custody. One would think that if the court was looking out for the best interest of the kids those conditions would be factored in.

    How many years ago did this occur?
  9. #9
    rmet4nzkx is offline Senior Member
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    While I agree with most the suggestions, this is not the time to do this yourself. Please get an attorney who can best manage the options you have available to you which may include the psych evaluation, however with a history of severe mental illness the existing evaluations and hospitalizations, may be sufficient and or the necessity of a GAL may or not be needed.
  10. #10
    BL
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    Writings from The Dept. Of Human and health Services ,Schizophrenia :

    Just as Normal People may occasionally do strange things ,many schizophrenic people often think,feel,and act in a normal fashion.Unless in the midst of an extremely disorganized state,a schizophrenic some sense of common reality ,for instance,knowing that most people eat 3 times a day,and sleep at night .Being out of touch with reality ( which is one way to describe the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia) does not mean that the individual is living " totally " in another world.rather there are certain aspects of this individual's world that re not shared by others and seem to have no real basis .

    A schizophrenic may,therefor ,appear quite normal much of there time .

    Distortions of part of their really , not totally .
  11. #11
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blonde Lebinese
    Writings from The Dept. Of Human and health Services ,Schizophrenia :

    Just as Normal People may occasionally do strange things ,many schizophrenic people often think,feel,and act in a normal fashion.Unless in the midst of an extremely disorganized state,a schizophrenic some sense of common reality ,for instance,knowing that most people eat 3 times a day,and sleep at night .Being out of touch with reality ( which is one way to describe the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia) does not mean that the individual is living " totally " in another world.rather there are certain aspects of this individual's world that re not shared by others and seem to have no real basis .

    A schizophrenic may,therefor ,appear quite normal much of there time .

    Distortions of part of their really , not totally .
    The complexity of the illness and the ability for people with the illness to maintain some level of normalcy is what makes it a very difficult issue when it comes to the fitness of the parent and the best interest of the kids.

    All I know from being married to someone with the illness for 12 years is that each day is like a new day because their is no guarantee what level of reality the person will have on a given day. I have seen my wife function quite normal at times and at other times be a shell of herself scared and in bed.
  12. #12
    rmet4nzkx is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cane86
    The complexity of the illness and the ability for people with the illness to maintain some level of normalcy is what makes it a very difficult issue when it comes to the fitness of the parent and the best interest of the kids.

    All I know from being married to someone with the illness for 12 years is that each day is like a new day because their is no guarantee what level of reality the person will have on a given day. I have seen my wife function quite normal at times and at other times be a shell of herself scared and in bed.
    One thing to consider is how she will function without you to fall back on? Is this divorce initiated by her or by you? Do you need resources to help your family? Have you contacted NAMI? Has she applied for SSDI? How old are your children, is she a competent mother? At least she stays in bed when she is scared. Are your children in any sort of therapy, because there are increased rates of mental illness with a 1st degree relative with Schizophrenia and they may also learn Schizophrenic behavior by rote simply because that is what they are exposed to. If they are preschool, do they get socialization outside the family?
  13. #13
    cane86 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmet4nzkx
    One thing to consider is how she will function without you to fall back on? Is this divorce initiated by her or by you? Do you need resources to help your family? Have you contacted NAMI? Has she applied for SSDI? How old are your children, is she a competent mother? At least she stays in bed when she is scared. Are your children in any sort of therapy, because there are increased rates of mental illness with a 1st degree relative with Schizophrenia and they may also learn Schizophrenic behavior by rote simply because that is what they are exposed to. If they are preschool, do they get socialization outside the family?
    My wife when properly medicated is a very high functioning schizophrenic. She has an accounting degree and she is a CPA. She worked at her last job for about 5 years and this was a result of taking her medication. She came off of medication and quit that job in December.

    The divorce is initiated by her. She says that she woke up one morning and decided that she didn't want to be married (not unusual for someone who is schizophrenic and off medication). I have visited the NAMI web site to try and get some information on how best to proceed. She hasn't applied for SSDI because she doesn't believe anything is wrong with her (also not unusual for someone who is schizophrenic to not have insight into their illness). My kids are 9 and 11 years old. She is a good mother as long as she is not suffering from a relapse or being delusional and has never been violent. My kids are very active in school and activities outside of school like soccer, swimming, and music lessons. My oldest has began to notice that his Mom does act strange sometimes and I explained to both of them that she suffers from a mental illness. I think my kids will have to get a little older before they really understand what is wrong with their mother. However, without me around or her taking medication it could become a very poor environment for kids to grow up in because schizophrenics have a habit of projecting blame and guilt to the people closest to them.

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