Use of The Psychological Evaluation In Divorce
The Psychological Evaluation Is a Powerful Tool in Divorce if Used Wisely
Very often in divorce litigation, it becomes necessary to conduct a psychological evaluation of one of the parties to the divorce. This is especially important in cases involving child custody disputes where the psychological condition of one of the parents is called into question. Our Orlando divorce attorneys are able to provide information on your divorce case and whether or not a psychological evaluation would be necessary for your case.
There are many different types of concerns that can come up during a divorce that would lead the divorce lawyers to conclude that a psychological evaluation of one of the parents would be a good idea.
These can include past hospitalizations such as a Baker Act or Marchman Act commitment, a past suicide attempt, or other psychological diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are among the most common that are seen.
During the divorce litigation process, the attorney requesting the psychological evaluation would first need to file a motion requesting an order from the court for a psychological evaluation to take place. This effectively creates a court order for the parent to undergo a psychological evaluation. This court order will also allocate how payment of the psychological evaluation will be taken care of. This payment can either be paid completely by one parent, divided equally between the parents, or can be covered upfront by one of the parties with a reservation for contribution from the other party once the findings come out.
It is highly recommended for the attorney requesting the evaluation to reach out to the other attorney to see if they are able to reach an agreement to have an evaluation conducted rather than having to go through a contested hearing on the issue.
Some of the items that will need to be discussed and agreed upon would include conducting a psychological evaluation, how the costs of the evaluation would be allocated, and who the specific evaluator or psychological provider will be.
In the event that the divorce lawyers are not able to reach an agreement on the evaluation then a hearing in front of the judge must be scheduled in order to present testimony and evidence as to why an evaluation would be necessary. Sometimes at these hearings, the parties themselves are sworn in and provide testimony, while other judges may just prefer to hear arguments directly from the lawyers.
Either way, the judge will listen to the facts and the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not an evaluation will be court-ordered, who the evaluator will be, how the fees will be allocated, and what sort of time limit will be set for the evaluation to occur.
It is very common for a party to a divorce action to make allegations of psychological instability against the opposing spouse in an effort to obtain leverage in a custody case. Sometimes these allegations are exaggerated, and it is important for everybody considering making these types of allegations to remember that the psychological evaluation report could come back highly favorable to the other parent and backfiring on the accusing parent.
If this happens then the tool that was meant to limit the other parent’s time with kids could actually become that parent’s best piece of evidence as to why they should have the time-sharing they are requesting.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that the use of psychological evaluations be reserved only for those cases where there is very clear evidence that someone’s psychological condition is to the point where it places children’s health, safety, and well-being in jeopardy.
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Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.