Mental Health and Family Law

If you’re in the midst of a contested divorce or custody litigation, your mental health is almost certainly going to be an issue for you and your attorney to discuss.  Any time a court is being asked to make a determination of custody or award visitation, or asked to set an award of spousal support or make a distribution of property pursuant to a divorce, the Court must consider each party’s “mental condition” by statute (see Virginia Code Section 20-124.3, Virginia Code Section 20-107.1, and Virginia Code Section 20-107.3).

How do you go about considering mental condition then in the context of contested litigation? For starters, it’s always a good idea to set up appointments with an individual mental health provider for yourself if you don’t already have a therapist. Family law litigation is always physically, emotionally, and mentally draining, so it’s a good idea to have a trained mental health expert there to assist you in staying mentally healthy.

If you’ve been diagnosed with any mental health condition and are taking medications for the same, make sure to stay medication compliant for dosage and to keep all scheduled appointments with your psychiatrist. Make sure to tell your attorney about any mental health diagnosis and if you’ve never been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition, but have wondered if you have a need for treatment, let your attorney know as well so you can begin the process for evaluation, since there tend to be long wait lists for appointments.

Finally, be sure to communicate to your attorney if your other parent, or spouse has contributed in a negative fashion to your mental health with specific examples and details if possible, as this could be very relevant for proving in your child custody case, your spousal support case or your equitable distribution case.

If you have questions regarding mental health and contested litigation, please give us a call at 804-423-1382 or send us an email at