Psychiatric Evaluations in New Jersey Divorce Cases
In some divorce and child custody cases, the judge will order a psychiatric evaluation of one or both parties. These are usually carried out when one person believes the other is unfit to take care of their children, whether that be due to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, mental illness, or questionable parenting behaviors. Importantly, however, a parent is not entitled to get the other parent evaluated without supporting proofs that call the other parent’s fitness into question.
If you are considering requesting a mental health evaluation of your ex-spouse or have had a request made against you, it is important to understand what to expect from this process. A skilled family law attorney at Moskowitz Law Group can answer your questions about psychiatric evaluations in New Jersey divorce cases and work with you to get the best outcome possible.
What Does a Psychiatric Evaluation Entail?
During a psychiatric evaluation, the individual being evaluated will meet with a psychiatrist to go over their history and present circumstances. The psychiatrist may also determine that psychiatric testing is necessary to determine different mental functions. The evaluating psychiatrist might also speak with collaterals, like family members or the spouse, and to other treating professionals, like a primary doctor or relevant specialist.
During the evaluation, the psychiatrist will look for any mental health issues, behavioral problems, or personality disorders that could negatively affect the person themselves, their family, or their children. Some mental health issues may not impact a case at all, while some may require medication or a treatment plan. Every situation is different, so it is crucial to work with a New Jersey divorce attorney who understands the intricacies of psychiatric evaluation cases.
How Psychiatric Evaluations Impact Family Law Cases
The results of a psychiatric evaluation can greatly impact a custody arrangement that is developed during divorce proceedings. For example, if someone has a mental illness that leads to unsafe behavior, they could lose custody or visitation rights. The findings of a psychiatric evaluation could also lead to supervision being required during visitation with the children. The extent of a mental illness, its effects on an individual’s behavior, and a person’s willingness to adhere to treatment can all play into how a psychiatric evaluation affects a New Jersey divorce case.
Using Psychiatric Evaluations in Court
In a family law case, the evaluating psychiatrist can be called to the witness stand and questioned about the methodology of their evaluation. A party who is trying to legitimize the diagnosis may ask the evaluator questions to prove that they are an expert. Conversely, an individual who is fighting back against an evaluator’s diagnosis might try to poke holes in their testimony and demonstrate why their evaluation is incorrect.
So long as a psychiatrist is sufficiently qualified, their evaluation can be used as an expert opinion in court. This could pertain to custody issues, financial decision-making regarding children, and more. A psychiatrist’s testimony can be invaluable in a divorce case, so it is crucial to work with a family law attorney who understands how to handle these cases in a way that benefits the parent and the children.
Preparing for an Evaluation
An individual being evaluated by a psychiatrist should go in coherent and ready to be open. They should be prepared to answer the questions of the psychiatrist and be aware that there are going to be authorizations that will likely have to be executed so that the mental health professional can speak to collateral professionals. A psychiatrist or the court could make negative inferences against someone if they are not forthcoming during the evaluation process.
Psychiatric evaluations are not mandatory in every New Jersey divorce case. Instead, the court may mandate that an evaluation be done in a particular case, given the unique facts of the situation. Psychiatric evaluations are often requested in the instance of bizarre behavior or in certain custody battles.
Learn More About Psychiatric Evaluations in New Jersey Divorce Cases
A psychiatric evaluation can change the course of your divorce or child custody case. It is essential to work with a dedicated attorney from the start who can provide guidance and make sure your interests and those of your children are protected. At Moskowitz Law Group, we will fight tirelessly for you and your family. Call today to discuss your rights regarding psychiatric evaluations in New Jersey divorce cases.