Impact of Mental Health on Branford Family Law Cases

Mental health issues can arise in family cases and domestic violence cases and they can affect family law matters such as visitation, custody, alimony, property division, living arrangements, and they can be used to help someone’s case or hurt someone’s case.

The mental health and well-being of children and adults alike in cases is of the utmost importance in any family law matter, and it is essential to utilize the assistance of an experienced and dedicated family attorney in Branford who has seen a variety of cases involving mental health issues. A lawyer will best be able to help in family law matters while passionately advocating for the best interests of you and your family.

Impact on Court Arrangements

Depending on the facts and circumstances of a case, there can be adverse effects for someone who has significant mental health issues and engages in activities that are not in the best interests of their child, as the court can limit visitation or custody because of the significant health issue.

Court is a public proceeding and generally, the information is publicly available. In regards to cases involving people with mental health issues, unless it is absolutely necessary, the court will typically limit the information which is available to the public. In a situation where somebody has significant mental health issues, a common motion that is filed is a motion seeking the court to order psychiatric evaluations for the parents and typically if one person is ordered to get an evaluation, the other will have to get one as well. That order can directly affect somebody’s custody and visitation. The records can be released to the court, can be released to a guardian ad litum, and can be released for family relations.


The role of an attorney with spousal arrangements and custody issues comes down mostly to custody and decision making, not as much to guardianship. The proper terminology in this context is legal custody.

Guardianship, however, will come up in probate court. In a determination of legal custody, a serious mental health issue can limit a parent’s ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of the children. A family lawyer can assist a parent with mental health issues in maintaining legal custody and if a parent believes the other parent has mental health issues and as a result, has concern for the safety of the children, a lawyer can help with that as well.


Conservatorship applies to parties such as parents and spouses, whereas legal custody applies to children. The role that a conservatorship would play in the family case is when one of the parties is unable to comprehend or understand the proceedings in family court and unable to understand and comprehend a settlement agreement whether financial or involving the children. When there is a situation where someone has a significant impairment that inhibits judgment, understanding, and decision-making, then one person to the party has to go to a probate court and get a conservatorship. Once that occurs, the person’s conservator can then operate on behalf of the party in a family case.

This is a typical scenario when someone has a significant mental health issue or disability that limits comprehension and decision-making skills. This could happen after a divorce, later in life, for example with a person having signs of dementia. Another example could be a situation where children are involved and a parent is not in a mental state to care for the children. Typically, a conservator would not necessarily have a say in the legal custody of children. The custody of the children in a situation such as this would most likely revert to sole custody of the other spouse. Legal custody applies to the children, whereas a conservatorship arises when one of the parties in the action is unable to make decisions, financial or otherwise, for themselves.