Can I Request a Psychological Evaluation of My Ex-Spouse?
If you are concerned over your former spouse’s mental health during divorce proceedings, you may wonder whether you can request a psychological evaluation of your ex-partner.
Mental health concerns in child custody cases
It is common for child custody disputes to involve one parent questioning the other parent’s mental stability. Cases involving psychological evaluations of one parent can be broken down into two categories:
- A parent’s concerns are baseless and intended to obtain a favorable outcome through false allegations; and
- A parent has concerns about the safety of their child due to the other parent’s history of mental health, diagnosis of a mental illness, or physical and emotional violence.
Can you request a psychological evaluation of the other parent?
In Florida, a parent has a right to request a psychological evaluation of the other parent pursuant to Fla. Fam. Law. R. P. 12.360. When such requests are made, the court may permit the examination of a parent’s physical or mental condition when the requesting party has established two elements:
- The other parent’s mental condition is related to a matter in controversy; and
- They have good cause to request the evaluation.
It is advised to consult with a knowledgeable family attorney in Florida to help you establish these two elements when requesting a psychological evaluation.
How to prove a matter in controversy?
The first element to prove when asking for the other parent to be psychologically evaluated is proving that their mental health is related to “a matter in controversy.”
You can establish this element by presenting convincing evidence to show that the other parent’s mental condition has a negative impact on their ability to care for the child. If you have evidence to prove that the other parent’s mental illness or instability poses a threat to your child’s safety, the court may grant your request for a psychological evaluation.
The most convincing evidence to prove the first element would be records showing a diagnosed mental illness or disorders or prior Baker Acts. Note: The Baker Act is a law that allows holding people who suffer from mental illnesses in a mental health treatment facility for up to 72 hours against their will.
How to prove good cause?
The second element is proving that you have “good cause” to request a psychological evaluation of your former spouse. The concept of “good cause” refers to a party’s ability to present substantial and convincing evidence to support their claims.
In our case, you need to have strong evidence proving the other parent’s mental instability in order to request the examination. If your ex-spouse’s mental health cannot be accurately assessed in the absence of expert medical testimony, the court will grant your request to evaluate your former spouse.
The court is more likely to grant your request for a psychological evaluation if you have evidence to prove that the child was neglected, abandoned, or abused as a result of your ex-spouse’s mental health condition.
Requesting a psychological evaluation is very case-specific, which is why it is advised to seek legal counsel from an Orlando custody & timesharing attorney at Greater Orlando Family Law. Schedule a consultation with our expert family lawyers by calling 407-377-6399.