Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Effect on Child Custody

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Effect on Child Custody

There are significant obstacles when a family has one parent (or both) who is serving in the military and recently was deployed. The family is missing a piece of the puzzle and there may be significant financial, emotional, and physical hardships that come from not having both parents in the household to care and raise for the children. One of the ways that the government has attempted to remedy the issues that come up in family law, especially in the case of parents who are members of the military, is through the enactment of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, which has been enacted in South Carolina.

The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

Though the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act imagines the applicability of the standards to several legal and familial issues that may arise such as custody during deployment, there are issues that may still be a concern for members of the military who are seeking to maintain custody of their children, namely the effect that post-traumatic stress disorder may have on their custody rights.

The Mental, Emotional, and Physical Effects of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by a stressful or traumatic event, largely related to those who have been involved in car accidents and sexual assault, yet is most known in soldiers involved in combat. PTSD can have several symptoms that affect the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of a person and often the symptoms manifest in the person experiencing flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and irritability, feeling of alienation, angry outbursts and feelings of depression, guilt, and worry. PTSD is also associated with the physical pain and substance abuse and addiction issues.

PTSD not only can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the individual affected but also can affect the lives of those around him or her, namely the children. Children are extremely sensitive to parents with PTSD, and may demonstrate the following:

  • A feeling of anxiety, sadness, fear, and worry either about themselves or their parents
  • Having difficulty paying attention or performing tasks in and out of school
  • Acting as a parental model to take care of the affected parent
  • Emulating the parent’s PTSD behavior
  • Having an inability to maintain relationships with peers, among other issues

Child Custody Factors in South Carolina

For a parent who suffers from PTSD and who is in the process of going through a divorce, there may be a rightfully felt fear that the PTSD may be used against the parent by his/her spouse to gain custody of the child. In South Carolina, the court looks at several factors to determine custody of the child(ren) following a divorce. The court reviews the factors under the guise of the “best interest of the child” model and ascertains on the whole whether both parents should get shared custody or only one parent gets custody while the other gets visitation rights. It is not uncommon in custody fights between parents to hash out every single reason why the child is not safe to be in the custody of the other parent.

Having PTSD does not automatically determine the loss of your child, but it may be used against you, in particular, if the PTSD manifests in a way in which you are abusive, angry, or unable to control your actions whether as a result of a flashback or other cause. Avoiding treatment for your PTSD will harm your chances of retaining custody so it is important to demonstrate a push toward treatment and a self-awareness surrounding your PTSD.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area

Child custody battles can be extremely long and traumatic. An experienced family law attorney at Klok Law Firm LLC can help guide you through the legal proceedings and help you maintain custody of your children. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.