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How do you prove being bipolar doesn't make you an unfit parent?

Does having bipolar disorder mean that you aren't a capable parent? Not necessarily. There are about 5.7 million adults in the U.S., which translates to about 2.6% of the population. Many of these people are raising their children quite capably.

However, that won't stop a vindictive spouse from raising the issue in a divorce or a controlling grandparent from seeking custody. Nebraska courts use the same standard as most other states when determining who should have custody of a child—the best interests of the child. That gives judges a fairly broad ability to consider anything that might affect a child's well-being and development, including a parent's mental health.

How do you show that your bipolar disorder isn't affecting your ability to parent your child? Here are some tips:

—Get a statement from your mental health care provider detailing how long you have been under his or her care for the disorder, how long it has been since you had an episode of decompensation, and the effectiveness of your treatments. Make sure that the statement indicates how often you are seen for treatment and ask your provider to include a statement about the stability of you condition.

—Get a printout from the pharmacy showing that you get your prescriptions in a timely manner (which goes toward showing the court that you are both responsible and compliant with your treatment).

—Be able to offer the court an explanation of your support system, including an explanation of your emergency care plan, should your mental health suddenly deteriorate. Having a temporary, alternate caregiver ready to step in and prepared with all the proper documents (including your financial and medical powers of attorney) shows you aren't ignoring the possibility of a crisis.

—Ask your child's pediatrician for a statement about your child's development and overall health, as well as an assessment of your ability to respond appropriately to your child's medical needs.

—Ask your attorney to help you arrange an independent psychological evaluation. This will help give the court an unbiased opinion about your mental stability and prognosis.

The combination of these items can help you defeat baseless accusations and complete fabrications designed solely to play on the general concern about bipolar disorder, which is often portrayed in the media as something that is often uncontrollable and violent.

A qualified family law firm can share more information on how handle custody disputes.

Source: Nebraskalegislature.gov, "Nebraska Revised Statute 42-364," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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