Minor Law Divorce Lawyers | November 3, 2023 | Child Custody
How To Request a Psychological Evaluation in Your Child Custody Case
About one in five adults in the United States have a mental illness. Most adults manage their mental health conditions with medications, therapies, and other strategies. However, when mental health conditions cause negative consequences for other people in a parent’s life, the court may order a psychological evaluation in a child custody case.
South Carolina Law Considers Mental Illness as a Factor in Custody Cases
A child’s best interest is the overriding factor in deciding child custody cases in South Carolina. When parents cannot agree on custody terms, judges make the decision. Even when parents present a child custody agreement, the judge can modify the terms if the judge determines the agreement is not in the child’s best interest.
S.C. Code Ann. §63-15-240(B) lists seventeen factors judges consider to determine a child’s best interest. The factors cover numerous matters, such as the ability of each parent to be actively involved in their children’s lives, the stability of a child’s current and proposed residence, and allegations of domestic abuse. The reasonable preferences of the child may be considered, in addition to the parents’ wishes.
One of the factors judges are to consider in child custody cases is the “mental and physical health of all individuals involved.” The law provides that the disability of a parent in and of itself determines custody unless the proposed custody arrangement would not be in the best interest of the child.
How Does a Parent’s Mental Illness Impact a Child Custody Case in Rock Hill, SC?
Merely having a mental illness does not mean a parent is unfit or unable to have custody of their child. However, the family court can order a parent to participate in a psychiatric or psychological evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to consider how the parent’s mental health is a factor in child custody or visitation.
A court typically considers numerous factors when determining how a parent’s mental illness impacts custody and visitation. Factors the judge considers include:
- The type of mental illness or disorder diagnosed
- The treatment the parent is receiving for the mental illness
- The impact the mental illness has on the parent’s ability to care for their child
The court considers the results of a psychological evaluation, medical records, opinions of mental health professionals, and other evidence to determine the above factors. Suppose the parent’s mental illness significantly impairs their ability to care for their child by providing a safe environment. In that case, the judge might find the parent is unfit to have custody of the child.
However, being unfit to have custody and being denied visitation are separate matters. A judge may order visitation for a parent who has a mental illness. If the mental illness is severe, the judge could order supervised visitation.
Common Mental Health Issues That Could Be Concerns in a Child Custody Case in Rock Hill, SC
Judges may consider any mental disorder or illness during a child custody case. However, common mental health issues brought up by parents in custody cases include:
- Substance abuse disorders
- Mood disorders
- Severe depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality disorders
It can be challenging to prove that a parent’s mental disorder or illness impacts their parenting abilities. If you suspect your child’s other parent is unfit for custody because of a mental illness, contact an experienced Rock Hill child custody lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options for seeking sole custody.
It is important to understand that the court may also order you to undergo a psychological evaluation. Doing so ensures the system is fair to all parties and adequately protects the child’s best interest.
What Happens During a Psychological Evaluation in a Child Custody Case?
Evaluators are unbiased third parties. They are hired to review all relevant facts related to a parent’s psychological health. The evaluator creates a report that explains the parent’s psychological issues and how those issues could impact the parent-child relationship and the parent’s ability to care for the child.
The psychological evaluation may include different tests to examine a parent’s fitness. The tests may also help determine the extent of the parent’s mental illness.
An evaluator may also review the parent’s medical records and consult with their physicians. Evaluators may interview individuals with direct knowledge of the parent-child relationship or the parent’s mental health, including teachers, coaches, babysitters, friends, and family members.
The evaluator prepares and submits a report to the court. The attorneys for each parent receive a copy of the report. The information and results of the psychological evaluation cannot be shared outside of the family court case.
A parent’s mental health is a delicate subject in child custody cases. The court wants to be fair to the parent, but must also weigh the parent’s rights against the child’s best interest. Talk with a local South Carolina family lawyer if you have questions about a psychological evaluation in your child custody case.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Attorney at Minor Law Divorce Lawyers for Legal Advice
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm Minor Law Divorce Lawyers in Rock Hill, SC at (803) 504-0971 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 1273 Ebenezer Rd, Suite B, Rock Hill, SC 29732.
We serve throughout York County.