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How PTSD Can Affect a Service Member’s Custody Battle

December 17, 2019

In the military, PTSD is common. In combat, a person experiences life-threatening and high-stress situations. Indiana veterans and military service members may be dealing with life-altering PTSD. For those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, between 11 and 20 percent of all service members have PTSD, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. What does this mean for military members who are in the middle of a custody battle? Can the other spouse use PTSD against him or her?

The Oaks describes PTSD as an anxiety disorder, often associated with combat. In order for the diagnosis to be PTSD, the parent must have symptoms that last beyond a month and that can impair his or her occupational or social function. Symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Outbursts

Some with PTSD may even suffer from substance abuse, physical pain and a change in behavior. Unfortunately, some children can notice these behavioral changes and may absorb those changes and react negatively. Children may have difficulty in school, emulate a parent’s behavior or experience fear.

Normally, PTSD is not a reason to strip a parent of custody. Now, this does not mean that the spouse will not bring up PTSD. He or she may reference PTSD induced behavior as a way to paint the other as an unfit parent. If the patient does not seek treatment or if he or she refuses treatment, this could be problematic when it comes to the custody battle. If the soldier is not proactive, this may paint him or her in a bad light. After all, PTSD is treatable.

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