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Timothy M. Tippins

Each year case law reports custody decisions in which the court mentions that one of the contending parents has been the honored recipient of a psychiatric diagnosis. Such diagnoses are usually referenced in support of the court’s decision against the parent bearing the psychiatric scarlet letter. In some decisions, the court discusses the critical issue of whether and to what extent the disfavored parent’s diagnosed disorder impacts his or her functioning as a parent. In others, no such analysis is set forth, leaving the impression that the court simply assumed that the diagnosis conveyed information bearing directly upon the litigant’s capacity to parent the child. As will be discussed in this article, that is not a safe assumption.

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