In a lot of child custody disputes, the court is going to focus on which parent can best provide for the child’s best interests. This is a comprehensive analysis that has to be conducted, which means that you need to take a holistic approach to your case.
However, when mental health issues are of concern in one of these cases, then it’s imperative to consider requesting a mental health evaluation. This may even include an evaluation of the other parent.
How do you go about requesting a mental health evaluation?
Unless your child’s other parent agrees to an evaluation, you’re going to have to request that the court order it. This means filing a motion and having a hearing where you’ll present an argument to justify your request. This motion is based on trial rule 35, which allows the court to order someone to undergo a mental examination if a person’s mental health is in question in the controversy and if the person who requests it can show good cause for the examination.
How do you prove ‘good cause?’
When you go into a hearing on this matter, you’ll need to have strong evidence to support your position. This may mean presenting witness testimony about the behavior of your child’s other parent that may be indicative of a mental health issue and how that mental health issue affects that parent’s ability to adequately care for your child. Documentation can help, too, such as medical and police records. Just remember that you need to show why the other parent’s mental health is relevant.
You may end up being the most powerful witness in your case, but you might also have to turn to your own child’s observations and beliefs. This can be tricky to get into evidence, especially if you’re unsure of how your child will testify or if you’re worried that your child will be harmed by being forced to testify.
Fortunately, you may be able to rely on some hearsay exceptions to get your child’s statements into evidence without having him or her testify. Successfully doing so depends on the circumstances at hand, though, and a deft hand at manipulating the law, which is why you might want to discuss the facts of your case with an attorney you can trust.
Do you need an attorney on your side?
Dealing with child custody matters can be stressful, especially given that your relationship with your child may be on the line. There’s simply too much at stake to go with a cookie-cutter approach. That’s why you’ll want to consider every avenue available to you when it comes to crafting a strong legal argument, including addressing mental health.
It’s not always an easy process, though. We understand that you might be stressed about how your child might be used as a pawn or how you can make the arguments that you need to support your position. This is why you may find it helpful to work closely with a skilled legal advocate who can help you navigate the process.
One of these attorneys can help you fully develop your legal arguments so that you can craft the strategy that gives you the best possible chance of securing the outcome that is right for you and your child. Hopefully, then you can protect your child and their best interests as fully as possible while preserving your relationship with them.