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Joliet family law attorneyThe stigmatization behind the term “mental illness” has been greatly reduced over the past few decades. Unlike in the past, being diagnosed with a mental illness is fairly common, and contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis does not necessarily impact your ability to perform everyday activities or hold responsibility. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. 

If you are a parent whose former spouse or co-parent has a mental illness, you may be concerned about their ability to be there for your child. While having a mental illness is not enough to be considered incapable of parenting, if you have seen your co-parent’s mental health get in the way of their parenting capabilities, you may be wondering how to address this in court and have these concerns reflected in your parenting plan. With the help of a reputable attorney, you can have your concerns heard by the court and keep your child in safe hands. 

Levels of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can come in many forms and levels of severity. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes two categories of mental illness: any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI). AMI is defined as a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder that can vary in impact from mild to severe impairment. SMI is a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder which results in serious functional impairment and which greatly interferes with or limits major life activities. According to 2019 data, an estimated 20.6 percent of all U.S. adults have AMI, while only 5.2 percent of U.S. adults have SMI. As you can see, only a small number of Americans suffer from SMI, and in order for your co-parent’s mental health to weigh into your parenting plan, they will likely need to have severe impairment from AMI or be diagnosed with a SMI.

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Can a Parent’s Mental Health Impact Parenting Time in Illinois?According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one out of every five American adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives and nearly 10 million adults live with a chronic and serious mental illness. Mental illnesses can vary greatly when it comes to the severity and how they affect your life. Having a mental illness can mean you have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder or even post-traumatic stress disorder. By far, the most common mental illnesses are depression, which affects around seven percent of adults, and anxiety disorders, which affect around 18.1 percent of adults.

When it comes to divorce, mental illness can definitely play a part in how the divorce is hashed out. Depending on the type and severity of the mental illness, it can even affect things such as parenting time and parental responsibilities in a divorce.

Understanding the Child’s Best Interests

When it comes to any issue involving the children in a divorce, the court’s first and foremost concern is the child’s wellbeing. The court’s main goal is to ensure that the child is being taken care of and is given every possible opportunity to flourish in life. If decisions are left to the court, the court will make child-related decisions based on the child’s best interests. The court will take into consideration factors such as:

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