Best Interests of The Child: Age, Physical & Mental Condition of Each Parent (Factor 2)

When parents consider litigating custody and visitation, they often have volumes of information on the “other parent’s” physical and mental condition. Accordingly, this factor is one of ten a judge must consider and is one which often gets a lot of attention during a contested trial.

The factor is broad- physical and mental conditions encompass many personal conditions about a parent that may otherwise not be common knowledge. A parent’s alcoholism, or smoking habit, or drug use are obvious issues for a court to look at. However, a court may also look at a party’s obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression, or Asperger’s Syndrome when determining a parent’s overall physical and mental health. This factor puts both parents under a microscope and every diagnosis from allergies to diabetes to mood swings has the ability to become a positive or negative influence on a final finding of custody.

How To Tackle This Factor

If you have any mental health diagnosis, or physical diagnosis, the key to “winning” this factor is to show the judge that said diagnosis/condition does not affect your ability to be a fit and loving parent. This can be done via medical records requests, physician testimony, or witnesses who can testify to your ability to physically or mentally parent a child. Conversely, if you’re spouse is alcoholic (for example), you will want to show the same medical records, and perhaps criminal records, as well as witnesses to prove that said diagnosis or condition does in fact affect the parent’s ability to care for a child.

Age of parties is not a hugely significant factor except in cases of extremes. For example, a 75 year old parent may have physical limitations when it comes to caring for an active 4 or 5 year old. Likewise, a 15 year old parent may have mental health limitations when it comes to being able to emotionally handle the challenges inherently present with raising a child.

A parent’s physical and mental well being is often a double edged sword- when one party starts to focus on the other parent’s flaws, both Mom and Dad tend to engage in mutual mudslinging. It’s important to discuss with you attorney which physical or mental shortcomings need to be brought to the judge’s attention in order to maximize your position for or against custody.

If you need to speak to an attorney regarding custody or visitation, contact Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at 804.423.1382.