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Is it appropriate to include PTSD in child custody determinations

When Maryland parents face off over custody issues, things can quickly take a turn for the worse. Parents naturally want to spend time with their kids, and a divorce cuts into the available time for both parents. That can lead to lengthy battles in which any and every weakness is exposed, often past the boundaries of what is fair or reasonable. An example lies in a case where a father's post-traumatic stress disorder became the central focus of his child custody case.

The man served as a Marine in Iraq, and went through multiple traumatic incidents during his time in the service. He has since been diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. He is currently receiving 100 percent disability from the V.A. For a period of time, he and his former wife shared custody of their three children, but their relationship has deteriorated in recent years.

That led the mother to seek full custody of the kids, and she cited the father's PTSD as a reason for that change. The court ordered the man to turn over his medical records, but the man refused to do so. He stated that there was no need to do so, and that his PTSD has nothing to do with is ability to effectively parent his kids.

The court ordered that the couple will continue to share custody of the kids, but the mother was granted full decision-making authority. The father feels as though he was treated unfairly in the matter. Many advocates for military parents and for individuals with mental disabilities agree that an individual's PTSD should not factor in to a child custody decision unless there are clear signs of danger to a child, in Maryland or any other state.

Source: 12news.com, "Can military vet's PTSD records be used against him in child custody dispute?," Joe Dana, July 25, 2017

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