Involvement of Psychologists in Ohio Divorce Cases

Psychological evaluations in Ohio divorcesPsychological evaluation of parents and children in a child custody battle is fairly common in Ohio divorce cases.

Either party, or the child, may be sent to a psychologist or other mental health professional to try to determine what is in the “best interests of the child.” For the most part, the purpose of a psychological evaluation is not to see if either parent has a mental health diagnosis.  The Psychologist’s contact with the parents is unlikely to be sufficient for the Psychologist to actually make a diagnosis.  At best, they may be able to observe characteristics which might be “consistent with” a certain diagnosis or disorder.

Either parent, and usually both parents, may be evaluated to see which is best for the child to live with, and the child may also undergo psychological evaluation to see where he or she should live. Most of the time, the judge will give a great deal of weight to these evaluations, which may be either court-ordered, private, or both.

These are very stressful events for anyone involved in a custody battle—both the parents and the children, and you need to have a qualified and experienced divorce attorney at your side if you have to go through this process.

The report form the mental health professional—the “psychological evaluation”— is actually a custody recommendation. After meeting with the children and any other relevant individuals which the professional deems crucial, such as the parties, their significant others and other individuals present in the homes of the parties, and after evaluating the parties and children for possible mental health problems, the mental health professional will prepare a recommendation for the Court.

There will generally be a cost for these evaluations, which will be a part of the cost of your divorce, and will usually be negotiated as a part of the divorce settlement. Failing that, the costs will be ordered to be assessed to one or both of the parties by the judge.

It is very important to remember that a psychologist will only be brought into a divorce if there is a specific reason to do so that the judge will allow. While you may want to bring one in, that is a decision that you will have to go over with your attorney, and not one to make on your own.

Generally speaking, here are a few things that you should ask your attorney about psychological evaluations in divorce cases:

First of all, you need to know the projected cost of the psychologist, and who will be expected to pay it. This will depend on many factors, including: who the psychologist has to see, how many visits are required, if there will be a written report, and whether or not the psychologist will need to testify in court.

Will the psychological evaluation be court-ordered or voluntary?

Who will the psychologist(s) probably be? What are their reputations (do they take usually a mother’s side, for instance)? When this person prepares a report, does he or she generally make a recommendation to the Court, or avoid making a recommendation to the Court?

Is there a working or ongoing relationship between the psychologist and the guardian ad litem, magistrate, and/or judge in your case, and what is it?

So, remember that courts generally rely strongly upon the custody recommendation of the mental health professional. For that reason, you should speak with your attorney before you are evaluated. Your attorney will be able to prepare you for the evaluation and give you advice on how to present yourself, and your case, in the best possible manner.

The divorce attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP  have many years of experience in helping their clients through these kinds of difficult times. If you have questions, please contact us.

To learn more about divorce, dissolution and child custody issues in Ohio, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

Learn more about a wide variety of Ohio divorce and dissolution topics by visiting http://www.dissolutionanddivorce.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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