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Thursday, December 18, 2008 heartbreak, Community Member, asks

Q: Child Visitation

My husband has just been diagnosed with bipolar and has been on meds for three months now.   Prior to the diagnosis, he became psychotic and was hospitalized.   One month later, he tried to commit suicide.    He now lives in a different town from me and the children where we do not know anyone.   I met with his counselor and she explained that he was very manic and had the most severe form of bipolar.  She said he very possibly could have future episodes.  I do not have knowledge that he is taking his medicines now or still seeing a counselor.   All I get from him is his word that "he is fine".   Even his family (who have been living from him) have not communicated with me any positive feedback on his condition.   Now, he is asking for weekend visitations with the children in his new apartment two hours from our home with no accountability and no information.   I offered to allow him supervised visits, but he is refusing saying "I don't need supervision".   So at this point, he has decided to never see the children again if he does not get exactly what he has asked.  He refuses to give me any information I've requested because as he said "It is wrong."  He cuts me off when I try to communicate and says, "You are trying to keep the children from me!"   Of course, this is not true, but as a Mother, what do I do?    What types of accountability should be expected?   How can I know the children will be safe given that they do not know anyone in this "new town" to call for help?   I allowed him visitation three weekends in a row in November when his Mother was staying with him--but she has returned to her home 20 hours away.   I also allowed the children to see him on his birthday.  I drove them 2 hours and waited downstairs while they visited and had birthday cake.   I feel like I've been willing to extend a hand time and time again--but he is not giving anything in return.   My question is am I being reasonable and fair?   Also, what type of accountability should be expected before visitation is reestablished?    The bottom line is that the children are unable to see their Father.  It breaks my heart to see that happen not only for them, but for him as well.  I just need to  know what is the right thing to do. 

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Answers (2)
John McManamy, Health Guide
1/12/09 2:16am

Hi, Heartbreak. This is an especiallt difficult time for you. To answer your question: Yes, positively, absolutely, you are being reasonable and fair. The safety and welfare of your children is your paramount responsibility.


Yes, people with bipolar and people who have had psychotic episodes can be great parents. But first they need to take responsibility for their illness, demonstrate that they are stable, and show that they are effectively managing their illness (such as being compliant with meds, sticking to regular routines, etc).


Since your husband and his family is not communicating with you about this, you have no way of knowing if he has his illness under control. Therefore, you are very wise in not exposing your kids to risk, even a remote risk.


I have bipolar, but I am also a parent. Horrible injustices have been inflicted on parents with bipolar. Unscrupulous spouses can easily manipulate judges in custody battles by raising the frightening specter of bipolar. But you're one of those people.


You are legitimately concerned about your kids. Until your husband takes positive steps to ease those concerns, you need to stand firm. I'm sure your kids miss their father, and I know you will not hesitate to facilitate visitation once your husband takes responsibility.

googlin13, Community Member
12/19/08 6:00pm

Take heart, it sounds like a lot of grief and tears have gone into this decision. To this outsider your position sounds reasonable. It is completely understandable to be worried. If the position is so severe that you are worried for your childrens safety there definitly needs to be some way for you or a friend to be able to step in if things become dangerous. I know no solutions, but I was unable to not respond and tell you that it seems that you are taking the right steps. Please don't give up, on him or yourself. There is always tomorrow, and I wish I could do more than hope your tomorrow is brighter than your today. My heart goes to you and your family.

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By heartbreak, Community Member— Last Modified: 10/26/11, First Published: 12/18/08