During many Dallas child custody cases, the child often lands in the middle of a contentious battle over which parent will be the “better parent” for him or her. While more often than not it is the heated emotions of divorce that drive the parents to battle over custody, if neither can set their sentiments aside for long enough to determine what is in the best interests of their child, the judge will do it for them. In order to determine the best custody arrangement for a child, the judge will consider numerous factors, including but not limited to each parent’s work habits, lifestyle choices, and even the recommendations of outside sources. In some instances, a judge may order the psychological evaluation of the child and both parents before coming to a final decision.
At the Law Offices of Udeshi Clark and Associates, our Dallas child custody attorneys have assisted numerous clients through the psychological evaluation process. If the courts have ordered a psychological evaluation of your family, our lawyers will prepare you for what to expect both during and following the evaluation process.
Why Will a Judge Order a Psychological Evaluation?
One of three individuals may order a psychological evaluation in a child custody case: either of the child’s parents or the judge. Typically, when a parent requests a psychological evaluation of the other parent, it is because they sincerely believe that their child’s other parent is not emotionally or mentally capable of caring for their child. The basis for the evaluation is to show the judge from a professional standpoint that the basis for the requesting parent’s concerns is valid.
If a judge orders a psychological evaluation in Dallas, it is because he or she is either concerned about the parenting capabilities of both parents, or because he or she cannot make a decision based off of what is known about each parent via paperwork and court hearings.
What Does a Psychological Evaluation Entail?
A psychological evaluation typically involves the child or children and both parents undergoing a mental health assessment by a court-appointed psychologist. The psychologist is responsible for presenting a neutral analysis of each parent’s mental health as well as an opinion regarding how the mental health of each parent will affect his or her ability to care for the child. While the court does not necessarily use the evaluator’s opinion to make its final decision, it will give significant weight to the mental health analysis.
The actual process of a psychological evaluation can be extensive and time consuming. The process usually entails the following:
- Interviews with both parents;
- Interviews with the child or children;
- A psychological testing of both parents that evaluates both personality and parenting approach;
- Interviews with outside sources such as teachers, neighbors, babysitters, and family members;
- An overview of school and medical records;
- Observation of how each parent interacts with the child, and vice versa; and
- Home visits.
To learn more about how a psychologist is chosen by the courts, as well as the criteria the psychologist uses to evaluate each individual, refer to the Texas Administrative Code, Title 22, Chapter 465.
As you can see, the process requires a significant amount of time and cannot be done in a day. Because of this, it is imperative that you only request a psychological evaluation if you have sincere concerns about the other parent’s state of mental health. Furthermore, it would be in your family’s best interests to remain open and cooperative throughout the evaluation, that way there are no further holdups in the custody determination process.
Consult a Dallas/Ft. Worth Child Custody Attorney
At the Law Offices of Udeshi Clark and Associates, our Dallas custody lawyers have extensive experience in working with court psychologists and have helped numerous clients through the psychological evaluation process. If you, your former spouse, or the judge has recommended a psychological evaluation, contact our family law firm now to speak with an experienced child custody attorney. We can advise you on what to expect from the process and guide you on how to present yourself in the best possible light. To schedule a consultation today, give our offices a call at (469) 914-5564.