Today, 1 in 5 adults is affected by a mental health condition. Many times, the effects of these mental health issues can be minimized with medication, therapy, and self-care. There are times, however, when a mental health or psychological issue can pose a threat to the safety and well-being of others.
If you are divorced or getting divorced, and believe that your child’s other parent is not mentally fit to have physical custody of your children you can ask a Los Angeles court to demand psychological testing. The results of these tests will allow the court to consider if awarding custody to your parent’s other child is a good idea.
When Can You Request Psychological Testing?
In California, courts hearing a child custody matter are required to determine the best interests of a child. This determination is based on testimony, evidence, and arguments presented to the court.
One important consideration a judge may consider is the mental and/or psychological state of the parents. Courts have the discretion to order psychological testing if they believe that there may be an issue but are not legally required to do so. However, if you believe that your child’s other parent has serious mental and/or psychological issues that would pose a threat to your children you have the right to request a 730 Evaluation.
Arguments that may persuade a court to order psychological testing include:
- Allegations of child abuse;
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse or dependency;
- Erratic and questionable parenting behaviors; and
- History of mental health issues.
The 730 Evaluation is used by California Family Court judges to take a deeper look into the mental health of parents seeking custody of a child. The 730 evaluation, if ordered by the court, is conducted by a custody evaluator. Custody evaluators are unbiased third party professionals with at least five years of experience diagnosing mental disorders, which can include psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.
The custody evaluator will review the details of the 730 Evaluation request and conduct any relevant tests to determine the fitness of the parents. Tests that may be used in a child custody hearing include:
- Rorschach Inkblot Test
- Thematic Apperception Test
- ASPECT (Ackerman-Schoedorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody)
- MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory)
- MCMMI-3 (Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory), and the
- BPS (Bricklin Perceptual Scales).
The Impact of Psychological Testing Results
The court will review the results of the psychological tests conducted by the custody evaluator. The results can help to guide the court to determine if the mental state of parent would put a child in danger, or at risk of danger.
The court is not required to deny or revoke custody when a parent has indications of mental health and/or psychological issues. Many mental health issues can be treated, allowing affected parents to live a fairly normal life and safely care for their children. However, courts may be hesitant to award or affirm custody if a parent displays an unwillingness to treat his/her mental health condition or if the condition is untreatable.
You Will Likely Be Tested, Too
If you request a psychological evaluation in your child custody matter the court may grant your request, but also require you to undergo psychological testing, as well. This helps to prevent one parent from abusing the legal system and making false allegations.
This is an important detail to keep in mind if you are considering filing a motion for psychological testing. If you believe that your own ability to parent would be questioned you may not want to force the issue.
Are you fearful that your child’s other parent has a mental health condition that would pose a risk to the safety of your child? Call the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Fernandez & Karney today to learn more about requesting psychological testing in your child custody case. We would be happy to review your case and answer any questions you have during a free consultation.