My Ex Wife’s Bipolar Disorder is Scaring Our Child

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“I’m the non-custodial parent of a beautiful 8 year old girl. A huge reason I divorced my now ex-wife was because of her bipolar disorder. My daughter is now getting scared, as she’s seeing the effects of my ex-wife not taking her medication. I don’t know what rights I have as a non-custodial parent! I realize I can’t just decide to keep my daughter with me, but I don’t know what to do! My ex-wife’s family admitted her, without her consent, to a clinic last night, where she just walked out. My daughter called me to pick her up after spending the day with her mother, who had not taken her medication, drove her back and forth to the doctor’s office to talk about butterflies and apologize, and nearly got into a car accident. What can I do? Help!”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

In California, Family Code section 3022 provides: “[t]he court may, during the pendency of a proceeding or at any time thereafter, make an order for the custody of a child during minority that seems necessary or proper.” In order to change a judicially determined custody order in California you need to show that there has been a change of circumstances. Here, you would likely need to file a noticed motion with a request to shorten time requesting a change in custody, and an emergency screening based on health and safety issues. You can request temporary orders – temporary custody pending a screening or further procedure – but it is unclear whether you will have the facts necessary to get a temporary order. Additionally, under the Code of Civil Procedure, there are provisions for requesting a mental examination of a party to an action.

You probably would need an attorney to help you with these issues, and there is no guarante of success. If the ex did anything to merit a restraining order – either through the police or the Court – then that is another avenue. I am not seeing those facts.

One other thing you can do is do your best to be the best parent you can be during your timeshare, encourage ex to take her meds, and keep an eye out for any behavior that is concerning or alarming. Keep a journal, and keep your own nose clean. Stay out of conflict, and insulate your daughter from conflict as best as you can. In other words, not go to Court and lead by example. Tough to do, but in some cases, in a child’s best interests.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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