mental health and child custody

Mental Health Issues and Child Custody in North Carolina

When a child or parent has a mental health issue, it’s important to seek help. But what if your child needs help but you and the other parent don’t see eye to eye on the solution? What if the other parent needs help but refuses to seek treatment? Are there any legal remedies?

Proving a Mental Health Issue Exists:

The first step for seeking a legal remedy is to prove there is a mental health issue. This applies whether it’s the child or parent with the issue. If there is already a diagnosis, it’s relatively easy to prove. The simplest way to do that is to subpoena the treating physician to testify in court. If there is not a diagnosis yet, your case will be more complex. You should speak to a family law attorney regarding a legal strategy tailored to your specific needs. That being said, you’ll be able to testify about behaviors you have seen.

Legal Remedies for Mental Health Issues:

Based on the testimony and evidence provided in court, the Judge may order therapy for the person afflicted with mental health issues. But the Judge may decide that a deeper look is needed before making an ultimate decision. If that’s the case, the Judge may order a psychological evaluation.

A psychological evaluation is a way of assessing a person’s mental health. It will determine if there is a mental health issue and the appropriate therapeutic treatment. The evaluation is through and has several parts. Usually there is a questionnaire, a discussion with the physician and tests.

Filing a Motion for a Psychological Evaluation:

If you believe a psychological evaluation is necessary in your case, you can file your own motion. If you do, you’ll need to prove that there are mental health concerns that affect the other parent’s ability to parent the children.

Filing a motion for a psychological evaluation may seem like a great idea. But there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. First, if you file a motion for a psychological evaluation, the other party may file one against you too. You should be prepared to undergo the same examination you wish to put the other party through. Second, a psychological evaluation can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000. The Judge has the ability to order the other party to pay the costs. However, there is always a chance she will order you to both share the costs.

Third, it’s always possible the other party’s evaluation will state there are no significant issues. Judge’s give great weight to psychological evaluations. So, if the other party’s evaluation comes back with no problems, his or her case will be much stronger in the Judge’s eyes. If that’s the case, you’ll need to have a conversation with your attorney regarding your legal strategy moving forward.

Mental health issues in family law cases are complex. But our firm is very experienced in dealing with these types of cases. Whether you, the other parent or your children are dealing with mental illness, we can help! Contact us today to set up a consultation and learn your legal rights.

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