Parental Rights for Parent with Bipolar Disorder?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“I am a divorced father of two beautiful little girls. I also have bipolar disorder, taking medication and fully compliant because the meds help. I have been having an uphill battle to see my children. The courts, law guardian, opposing counsel all believe that I am danger to my children, but there is no proof. All evaluations that have been conducted shows the children love me, want to spend time with me, adore me and I am a positive influence on the children. My ex constantly interferes with the visitation to the point of denying it due to her unproven beliefs.

Additionally, I have mostly proceeded pro se due to financial reasons. Attorneys have commented to me on my pleadings saying they are excellent and some are intimidated by the excellence of my proceedings, so that they refuse to take my case. I was taken out of my children’s lives based on unproven false allegations, unlike most fathers, I refuse to lie down and let them walk over me. I have been even granted a custody modification to quickly have it reversed by further accusations by the opposing counsel, who in my opinion has crossed the line.

I have read about the family courts own statements that they do not bias based on gender. That is not true, there is gender bias in the family courts. How can a person properly assert themselves in the family courts when they have to go pro se and the only thing against them is a mental disorder known as bipolar? Remember all evaluations have reported that I am good, responsible father who is capable of making right decisions and my children love to see me.”Typically, courts tend to err on the side of protecting children. Of course, I don’t know why the court thinks that your children might be in danger. For example: Was there a time in the past when you weren’t on medication? Have you been hospitalized as being a danger to yourself or others? Are you now fully functioning, working, and living a normal life? Has your behavior been erratic? How long have you been compliant with medication? While you don’t believe that there is a danger to your children, the courts and the law guardian believe that you are. If you plan to continue to swim up river, you must find the resources to hire a lawyer who can provide the court with indisputable evidence that the children would be safe with you…a high standard. You might check with legal aid or various mental health advocacy organizations to see if you can get help with attorney fees.

Question: If your goal is about being right, you will be able to fight about this in court for a very long time while complaining loudly that the system is unfair to fathers. You’ll blame your ex-wife, the courts, and the law guardian and feel very self-righteous. You’ll probably find people who will agree with your assessment at least some of the time and you’ll get some sympathy along the way. But by doing so you may sound like a sore loser and further alienate the law guardian and court.However, if your goal is to see your children, I would recommend a different approach. What about proposing a schedule of supervised visitation? That way someone else would be guaranteeing the safety of the children. Some communities have centers for supervising visitation. Sometimes therapists can provide safe space for short meetings as joint sessions between the children and parent. Most often, a family member or close friend can be trusted to serve that function. After establishing a series of many safe, successful visits with supervision, it is a lot easier to go to court and ask for some limited unsupervised visitations, eventually working toward a more normal schedule. At the same time, you’ll be creating a history of compliance with your medication and demonstrating that you can live a stable life.

Ideal? No, clearly you’d like to spend unsupervised time with your children. But the efforts focused on being the best parent you can be will give you more of what you want in the long run: quality time with your children.

Recommended reading (click on the picture for details):
Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex