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Should you ask your spouse to undergo a mental health evaluation?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2022 | Child Custody

The emotions that are often tied into a divorce can make people act irrationally. But if the behavior that is being exhibited is indicative of a bigger problem, you may want to consider asking the court to order a psychological or some other sort of mental health examination for your spouse.

When is a psychological examination appropriate?

You can rely on the trial rules to request a psychological evaluation when the mental health of your spouse is at issue in your case. Therefore, requests for these kinds of evaluations are most often seen in the context of a child custody dispute where there’s concern about how one parent’s mental health will affect their ability to appropriately parent the child.

How do you demonstrate the need for an examination?

To obtain an order for an examination, you’re going to have to file a motion with the court and have a hearing on it unless you can get your spouse to agree to the evaluation. When you file your motion, you should lay out the facts that indicate that there may be mental health issues in play and how those concerns are relevant to the legal issue that is before the court.

Be careful when requesting one of these evaluations, though. If your request is based on exaggerated claims, the request could end up backfiring on you and actually lead to an outcome that is less desirable. It’s also worth noting that you may end up having to pay for some or all of the evaluation if it ends up being ordered.

What about if your spouse is requesting that you undergo an examination?

Under these circumstances, you have a few options. First, you could consent to the examination without being ordered to undergo one. But keep in mind that this evaluation could be harmful to your position. Even if you think you know what a mental health professional will say about you, you can’t guarantee it.

Your second option is to fight the motion in court. Here, you’ll have to counter the claims made in your spouse’s motion. You may argue that the claimed facts are untrue or that they are irrelevant to the matter before the court. You may need to present your own medical or mental health records, and you may want to consider having witnesses who can testify on your behalf at the hearing on the motion.

What if the court orders you to undergo an evaluation?

Even if you are ordered to undergo an evaluation, though, don’t stress. Instead, prepare yourself for the evaluation. Educate yourself on what the process will entail and be prepared to answer some difficult questions.

When the evaluation comes back, you can figure out how best to address it in your case. After all, there are steps that you can take to mitigate any negative effects of a mental health condition. Don’t let your spouse stigmatize you and scare you into complying with whatever request they make.

Do you need help crafting your legal strategy?

Requesting a psychological evaluation can be a strong move in your divorce case, but this is just one avenue that may be available to you. If you want to make sure that you’re being comprehensive in approaching your case and that you are presenting the strongest legal arguments possible under the circumstances, you may want to discuss your situation with an attorney who is well versed in building these sorts of legal strategies.