When a judge considers a child custody case, the judge decides custody based on the child’s best interest. The judge hears testimony and reviews evidence presented by each party. However, the judge might also order a psychological evaluation to help determine what would be in the best interest of the child.
What Is a Psychological Examination in an Orlando Child Custody Case?
Family courts use psychological examinations as tools in custody cases. An evaluator or psychologist assesses the psychological and emotional needs of the child and issues a report to the court. In addition, the evaluator assesses the parenting skills and abilities of each parent to meet the child’s mental health and emotional needs.
According to Florida’s Family Law Rules of Civil Procedure, the court can schedule a management conference at the court’s discretion at any time during the case. Parties may also request a case management conference 30 days after the service of a petition.
At the case management conference, the court might take several steps to help move the case forward, including but not limited to the following:
- Hearing motions
- Referring cases for mediation
- Appointing a Guardian ad Litem to represent the child
- Addressing discovery issues
- Appointing experts
- Referring the case for a psychological examination, home study, or social investigation
Attorneys may file motions requesting a psychological evaluation in an Orlando child custody case. The court decides whether to order an evaluation on a case-by-case basis. If the court orders an evaluation, it also allocates funds to pay for it.
How Does an Evaluator Conduct a Psychological Evaluation?
Psychologists use several methods for conducting a child custody psychological examination. First, the evaluator assesses the child, the parents, and the family as a whole.
Steps the evaluator might take during a psychological examination include, but are not limited to:
- Obtaining records for the child from their schools, physicians, daycares, therapy sessions, etc.
- Conducting interviews with parties who might provide relevant information about the child, including health care providers, teachers, counselors, extended family members, coaches, neighbors, therapists, etc.
- Using one or more psychological tests and assessments for the parents, children, and other household members
- Interviewing the child and parents individually and together
- Conducting home visits to observe the family
- Reviewing orders, reports, and other court records regarding allegations of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
- Reviewing documents and papers created by the child, including drawings, journals, school work, recordings, etc.
Once the evaluator completes the psychological examination, they create a report to submit to the court. Each parent has access to a copy of the report. The report might include recommendations for child custody and visitation.
How To Prepare for a Psychological Examination in a Child Custody Case
Your Orlando child custody lawyer will spend time with you reviewing what to expect during the examination. You can expect to be tested and analyzed during the examination, even if you petitioned the court for the psychological examination. Analyzing both parents provides a fair process and a complete assessment of the family and child.
A parent might be upset that their spouse requested a psychological examination. However, first impressions are important. Dress appropriately, be polite, and avoid complaining about your child’s other parent.
Other things that you need to keep in mind when preparing for a psychological examination include the following:
- Do not coach your child about what to say to the evaluator. Psychologists can tell when a child has been coached or pressured to say specific things during an assessment.
- Talk with your Orlando child custody lawyer about the evaluation. Tell your lawyer any information that you believe could be damaging or misinterpreted. You need to be completely open and honest with your attorney.
- Provide your attorney with as much information as possible to present to the evaluator that can help your position, including a witness list, journals, videos, photographs, etc.
- Arrive on time for all meetings, wear appropriate clothing, and cooperate with the evaluator.
- Do not become angry, defensive, or combative during your sessions.
- If you need to communicate with the psychologist or evaluator, do so through your attorney. Do not call the evaluator directly unless you are instructed to do so.
It is natural to be nervous or stressed during a psychological examination. You might feel as if it is an intrusion into your privacy and you are the one under a microscope.
Talk to your lawyer about your concerns. Your attorney is familiar with psychological examinations and the best way to approach these types of assessments in a child custody case. Your child benefits when all parties work together to resolve child custody issues in a manner that protects your child’s best interests.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803