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When Can The Court Order A Mental Health Evaluation To Help With Its Parenting Plan Decisions?


If you enter the phrase “my ex is” into a Google search bar, Google’s suggestions will include all kinds of disturbing insinuations about mental health, such as “crazy,” “psycho,” insane,” “a stalker,” “sadistic,” and “narcissistic.”  Divorce cases messy enough to require a trial frequently involve spouses alleging that the other has an undiagnosed mental illness.  If you try to persuade the court that you deserve more parenting time because of your spouse’s mental illness, whether or not your spouse’s medical records contain any documentation of this mental illness, it will only serve to reduce your credibility in the eyes of the court.  Every psychiatrist knows that a mental illness diagnosis does not make you ineligible for parenthood; more than one in five Americans has been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, and many of them are parents.  Your own experiences with clinical depression, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or another psychiatric condition have probably shaped your attitudes toward parenting.  Psychological evaluations and testimony from psychiatrists and mental health counselors have a place in family court, but only when they are directly relevant to the question that the court is trying to answer.  If you think it is unfair that the court is requiring you to undergo a psychological evaluation or has refused to require one for your ex-spouse, contact a Palm Beach County divorce lawyer.

At What Point Do Angry Outbursts Become Domestic Violence?

Philip and Hillary divorced when their daughter was in elementary school and their son was a toddler.  At their divorce trial, Hillary expressed concern about Philip’s angry outbursts, where he would yell, curse, and destroy personal property.  She said that these outbursts happened every day, and the triggers for them were everyday annoyances, such as Internet glitches and televised presidential debates, and that this behavior frightened her and her daughter.  The court ordered a psychological evaluation of Philip before allotting unsupervised parenting time.

The trial court overturned the decision; it reasoned that Philip’s behavior did not justify the exception to the right to medical privacy embodied by a court-ordered psychological evaluation.  It cited other cases where courts denied requests for psychological evaluations of parents whose behavior upset or frightened their ex-spouses and children.  One judge dissented, saying that Philip’s behavior was sufficiently frightening to fit the criteria of domestic violence, because it had caused the parties’ daughter to seek mental health counseling, and it had ultimately caused Hillary to file for divorce.  The dissenting judge reasoned that, in a domestic violence investigation, the court would certainly seek to protect a spouse and children from this kind of behavior.

Contact Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of divorcing someone who has never been charged with domestic violence or diagnosed with a mental illness, but whose behavior is cause for concern.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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