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Use Of A Psychological Evaluation In Custody Cases

Use of a Psychological Evaluation in Custody Cases David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Monday, March 12, 2018.

Consider this common scenario: The parties have been married for 15 years but have now separated and are pursuing a divorce. They have two (2) children, a 10-year old boy, and a 7-year old girl. Mom claims that dad has anger issues, and a violent temper; directed both to her, and to the children on occasion, although he has never physically abused any of them. Dad is quick to become frustrated with mom and/or the children; screams at them; slams doors; punches walls and will throw things, all of which is frightening to mom and the children.

Now dad is pursuing custody of the children, with a trial looming, and mom has no real evidence of dad’s offensive conduct, except for her own testimony. What can she do?

Virginia Rule 4:10, and arguably Code §20-124.2(E), give a parent the right to ask a judge to order that the other parent submit to a “psychological evaluation,” to be conducted by a qualified psychologist. This can be a very powerful tool as the chosen psychologist will conduct a battery of tests on the offending parent, which are specifically designed to demonstrate any psychological issues, and/or personality disorders, existing with that parent. The chosen psychologist can then be presented at the custody trial as an expert witness to testify to the presiding judge regarding the offending parent’s psychological issues and/or personality disorders.

Under the scenario described above, mom has now developed support from a qualified professional, for her concerns about dad and his custody effort; and has devised a means whereby all of dad’s antics will be presented as evidence to the presiding judge.

If you are indeed in, or anticipate, a custody fight with your spouse, call one of the attorneys at Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. for a complimentary, 30-minute telephone consultation.

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