Can Taking Antidepressants Hurt My Child Custody Case?

If you are in an unhappy marriage, perhaps aspects of the relationship have caused you to feel angry, hopeless, or even depressed. It is not uncommon for people in hollow marriages to experience situational depression, or in more chronic cases, feelings of sadness may progress into full-blown clinical depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder.” If you’ve experienced depression personally, you know that it can affect the way you think and feel, and it can affect:

  • Sleeping
  • Appetite
  • Working
  • Taking care of your home
  • Taking care of your family

In order for someone to be diagnosed with depression, they must have experienced symptoms for at least two consecutive weeks. When a spouse is on the receiving end of verbal abuse, physical abuse, controlling and manipulative behavior, constant belittling, or even stonewalling, where a spouse shuts the other spouse out, it’s understandable how a spouse in this situation may develop depression.

Sometimes even, depressive symptoms are brought on when one discovers that their beloved spouse is having an affair – and that can be emotionally debilitating. So, what happens if you are depressed – because of your marriage or for another reason – and your spouse uses the fact that you’re on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to try and get the children?

“You’ll never get the kids because you’re a drug addict,” or “The judge will never let you have the kids because of your depression,” or “You’re mentally insane, you’ll lose custody of the kids and I will get them.” Unfortunately, spouses frequently make these types of threats. They know their spouse has been diagnosed with depression or another mental disorder and they try to use that against them, either to keep them from filing for divorce, or to scare them during the divorce process.

Can You Lose Custody?

If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression and you have sought professional help, then you have a strong case. Will the judge listen to your spouse’s claims that you’re an unfit mother or father? Yes, more than likely. Concerned about your children’s best interests, most judges would be interested in what your spouse has to say.

While taking antidepressants in itself should not preclude you from getting custody of your children, you may need to show the court that:

  • You are taking the medication as lawfully prescribed.
  • The depression is not interfering with your ability to parent.

Clearly, if you were depressed and you sought help, that shows that you were proactive and took initiative. That alone shows that you care about yourself and your family. If your spouse is bullying you, and using your depression to keep you from filing for divorce, we urge you to contact our firm to meet with one of our Denver divorce attorneys.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).