In 2009, a woman by the name of Mindi experienced a postpartum psychosis where she envisioned that her 5-month-old daughter had a major injury as a result of someone having put sedatives in the air vents and raping her daughter. She took her daughter to a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri where Mindi was put under a psychological evaluation and it was determined that her daughter needed to be taken away by local child welfare authorities.
Her daughter was taken away under the concept called “predictive neglect” where Missouri and 30 other states will terminate a parent’s rights if authorities conclude that the parent has a mental illness that makes them incapable of raising a child. Mindi then underwent therapy and eventually had another child in 2011. The psychiatrist that treated Mindi, Dr. Stanley Golan, diagnosed Mindi with a mix of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and “mild delusional disorder.”
But while Mindi was able to raise another child, had her mental illness under control, and worked at a steady job, she went through multiple trails and appeals to gain custody of her daughter. This past March, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled 6-to-1 decided that the state had determined that her mental illness posed a risk to her child’s safety and she would not be able to raise her. In May, her daughter was adopted and Mindi no longer has contact.
Mental Illness and the Law
While a 1997 federal law mandates that authorities must try to allow parents access to programs that would make it easier to put the family back together, it does not explicitly cover mental illness. This leads to varying degrees of rights to parents with mental illness.
Arizona is one of five states that lists mental illness has putting children at risk. Under ASR 8-533, courts may terminate parental rights if the parent has mental illness that “is likely to continue for an indeterminate period of time.”
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 if you’re facing a similar case today.
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