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What is predictive neglect and can it cost a parent custody?

It is not uncommon for divorcing parents to argue over custody or bring each other's lifestyle and mental health into question. Many times a family court will evaluate the facts of each complaint or accusation and make an educated decision based on the information provided. If one parent suffers from a debilitating mental illness, it is likely that the court will award custody to the other parent. In cases where there is only one parent, a family court may still take custody away for a mental illness. This consideration is known as predictive neglect and can cost individuals suffering from a mental illness their parental rights.

Depending on the severity and type of mental illness a parent suffers from, the family court may be concerned with a child's well-being. In cases where schizophrenia or severe depression may lead to violent outbursts or neglect, the family court will likely find the parent unfit to care for their child and the home an unsafe environment.

Regardless of whether the illness is newly diagnosed or if the child has suffered physical harm, a court may make a determination based on what could happen and not what has happened. Essentially, the court is predicting that the parent's mental illness will eventually lead to neglect, and, therefore, the child should be removed from the home for their own safety.

There are several states that have considered predictive neglect when deciding custody but only a handful that have used this method to take away an individual's parental rights. Millions of Americans suffer from some type of mental illness. It is scary to think that an illness of this type may cost a parent their rights. For individuals that are concerned with how a mental illness diagnosis may impact their parental rights, having the representation of a trusted attorney may help.

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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