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Divorce and Paternity, When Can The Court Order Psychological Evaluations?

August 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized



Psychological evaluation

In a divorce or paternity case a court can order psychological evaluations in a variety of circumstances where the psychological condition of a party is relevant to an issue before the court and there is a good reason for the evaluation to be conducted.

The essential requirements of the law relating to psychological evaluations are set forth in rule 12.360 of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. “Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 shall govern general provisions concerning the examination of persons in family law matters, except that examinations permitted under rule 1.360(a)(1) may include examinations involving mental condition.”

“Rule 1.3 60(a)(1) provides that “[a] party may request any other party to submit to examination by a qualified expert when the condition that is the subject of the requested examination is in controversy.” Further, an examination under rule 1.360(a) “is authorized only when the party submitting the request has good cause for the examination.” Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.360(a)(2). At any hearing on the request for a compulsory examination, the party submitting the request has the burden of showing that both the “in controversy” and “good cause” prongs have been satisfied. In re G.D., 870 So. 2d at 237.  The burden of proof is heightened when the party subject to the request for an examination has not voluntarily placed that issue in controversy. Wade v. Wade, 124 So. 3d 369, 373 n.3 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013).  A psychological evaluation should not be ordered unless a court makes these findings.” Manubens v. Manubens, (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).

Where a psychological evaluation is germane to the issues before the court and good cause exists for an evaluation to be performed the evaluation should be limited in subject and scope.  An order should  identify the length of the examination, type of testing, and whether testing is limited to methods routine to the profession.  Id.

The same requirements have been found to apply to the therapeutic evaluation or psychological evaluation of a child.  In Medina v. Haddad, (Fla 3rd DCA August 31, 2016) the Third District Court of Appeals for the state of Florida reversed a trial court order that a child undergo a therapeutic evaluation/consultation to determine if therapy would be helpful to the child to deal with the stresses of the divorce.  The Court reasoned that the child’s psychological health was not at issue in the litigation and that good cause did not exist to order the evaluation.


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