Psychological Evaluations & Family Law Cases

Posted in uncategorized on July 1, 2021

Family law cases are delicate legal matters that can have a major impact on a family. A family law case such as a divorce or child custody matter has the power to change a family’s future. For this reason, it is imperative to be thorough in investigating and preparing for these cases. If there is any speculation as to whether a family member is psychologically fit to have custody of a child, this must be examined. The correct way to do this is by requesting a psychological evaluation.

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for Psychological Testing?

A psychological evaluation or test refers to an interview between a licensed mental health professional and the person or parent in question. During this meeting, the person will be asked questions to determine his or her psychological fitness or mental state in reference to the specific legal matter, such as child custody or visitation. If it is determined that the person is not psychologically sound, this can inform a judge’s decision during a family law case.

It may be appropriate to request psychological testing of the other party involved in your family law case in California if any of the following apply to that person:

  • Prior issues relating to mental, emotional or psychological health
  • Previously diagnosed psychological issues or mental health conditions
  • A family history of psychological problems
  • Signs of alcohol or drug abuse or addiction
  • Allegations of child neglect or abuse

Ordering a psych evaluation is not a legal requirement. If you do not have valid grounds on which to request a mental health evaluation, the judge in your case may dismiss the request. However, if there is evidence that your former spouse could have a psychological problem that poses a threat to the safety of your children, you have the right to ask for psychological testing at any point during your case.

If I Request Psychological Testing for a Soon-to-Be Former Spouse, Will I Also Be Subject to Testing?

Yes, it is possible that you will also have to complete a psychological evaluation if you request one for your former partner. The person requesting the evaluation may also get tested to ensure he or she is not abusing the legal system. Having both parties submit to psychological evaluations can keep a trial fair.

If you are requesting a psychological evaluation out of spite or based on false allegations, know that this could backfire and subject you to the evaluation yourself. Consult with an attorney before taking this step, as requesting psychological testing may not be beneficial in some circumstances.

What Is the 730 Evaluation?

A psychological evaluation requested during a family law case for potential mental health problems that could pose a threat to a child or children is known as a 730 evaluation, named after California Evidence Code Section 730. This law states that the court can order experts to investigate the psychological fitness of one or more parties at any time before or during a trial, either from the court’s own concerns or based on a motion filed by any party involved in the case.

A 730 evaluation typically involves an assessment of both parents, the child’s relationship to both parents, other family members and the family’s living arrangements by professionals. The professionals that conduct the evaluation must meet special certification and training requirements, such as a degree in a mental health discipline and extensive experience in family law. The goal of the 730 evaluation is to assess whether an individual or family is in a fit state mentally or psychologically to care for a child.

Get Help From a Family Law Attorney

If you believe that your legal matter will involve a psychological evaluation of you, your former spouse or other family members, consult with a Solana Beach family law attorney at Ratzer|Dobis for assistance. We are Certified Family Law Specialists who can walk you through the psychological testing process, from requesting a test for someone else to undergoing an evaluation yourself. An attorney will do everything possible to protect your rights during your legal matter.