Parental Psychological Exams

Live at Five’s Board Certified family law attorney, Sonya Coffman, answers questions submitted by Southeast Texas KFDM News viewers. What is a psychological exam? What are some of the questions a parent may have to answer in a psychological exam? How long does a psychological exam take? Who can order a psychological exam?


well decisions regarding child custody in other parenting arrangements occur within several different legal context currently local courts are seeing a lot of custody cases where psychological exams are being ordered to find out what they are and how they're being used we turn now to live at five's family attorney sonya coffman so what exactly are psychological exams they are court-ordered evaluations of a parent's mental health as it affects their parenting ability so what are some of the questions that that parents may may have to answer well the process usually starts with the court appointing a psychologist who then interviews one or both parents and sometimes the children and it covers everything from that parents history growing up um their social skills their health uh... how they perceive themself as a parent what problems they see in the other parent its just a very thorough evaluate so how long will the exam take i mean if it's not something that just happens in a day i wouldn't think no not usually it's usually several interviews oftentimes though the scope depends on what the court asked the psychologist to determine and then that process is usually followed by psychological testing in addition to the interview so can you ask your lawyer if you think i mean i hate to say it like this but perhaps that your other half is crazy can you ask that the the judge or your lawyer to order a psychological exam yes and and hit the nail in the head we hear that a lot that one parent thinks that about the other one so sometimes each parent asks for the evaluation and that it can happen that way or the court can order it on its own motion if if the court hears evidence that causes concern about safety for the children what about the kids could they order it i mean that's always a scary thought i i've never had that come up ok that a child ask for their parents to be evaluated it might not be a bad idea so what are some of the pros and cons of having a psychological exam one of the advantages is that the court benefits from the opportunity to really get to the bottom of what's going on within a family much more information than could be developed in the court room so if the court hears something of concern then it's often a good idea to get that mental health evaluation the disadvantage i would say is that adds another layer of cost to otherwise already costly custody litigation so so how can you avoid going through a psychological exam well if the court feels it's in the best interests of the children the courts can order it and there's probably no avoiding it but the best way is to co-parent with the child's needs in mind and just try to avoid a lot of the drama and the backbiting that often goes along with the divorce that would be probably the best approach alright and uh do you have any idea what the psychological evaluation would cost its a range uh i've seen an evaluation of one parent as low as seven hundred and fifty dollars so it adds pretty good but it goes quickly from there depending on how much work the evaluator is asked to do so it is expensive alright sonya as always we appreciate all of your your insight and uh i'm sure lots of parents out there struggling with this right now thanks for having me well and if you have a question about family law let attorney sonya coffman answer your questions all you need to do this fax those at eight nine two seven three oh five or better yet just email those to