In child custody and visitation cases, a parent’s request to the trial court to have the other parent psychologically evaluated requires a showing that: (i) the request for the evaluation is related to a matter that is in controversy, and (ii) that there is good cause for the examination.
In a recently decided case captioned Reno v. Reno, the Former Husband filed an Emergency Motion for Mental Examination and Supervised Timesharing pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 and rule 12.360. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that the party requesting the examination bears the burden of proof. Seeking custody does not place the other party’s mental condition in controversy. The other party’s mental condition must directly involve a material element in the case. Allegations of mental illness must be verified by the parent seeking the evaluation, and must show that the parent is having emotional issues that could substantially impact upon his or her ability to parent a child.
The focus of the inquiry is not on good parenting or bad parenting. The focus is on deeper concern with the parent’s emotional health. Good cause is substantiated by proof that a parent has not met the needs of the children. The party requesting the evaluation must show that the alleged emotional illness places a child at risk of abandonment, abuse, or neglect. The requesting party must show that a parent’s emotional condition would jeopardize the children’s wellbeing.