Are You Prepared for Your Custody Psychological Analysis? Contemplate These Six Ideas. | Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP
You want to make sure that you are prepared as your case moves towards custodial assessment. A psychological assessment in a custody case can be done for a number of reasons, including problems related to drug or alcohol abuse, abuse of a child or parent, the mental health of a parent or child, a child’s special needs, and assessment of child attachment, or even to resolve significant factual disputes between the parties.
Often times the psychological assessment is the entire family. The evaluator may interview both parents, the child, the parties’ mental health providers, anyone living with the family, the child’s pediatrician, the child’s school officials, and other witnesses.
Before submitting an admission form or attending your first interview, you should take some time to prepare.
Know your strengths and weaknesses (and those of your co-parents)
You should be ready to discuss your parents’ strengths and weaknesses. We all have it. Think about what you are good at as a parent and where you can improve. Prepare to discuss these in depth with the evaluator and try to find solutions that can improve your weaknesses.
You should also think about your co-parent’s strengths and weaknesses. It is important to be able to say positive things about your co-parents, even if they just love your child. Everyone has good qualities, now is the time to remember some of your co-parent’s good qualities.
Don’t be too defensive
Psychological evaluations are uncomfortable. You will be asked difficult questions. Don’t try to get too defensive. Not every question relates to something your co-parent said. Some are standard questions used by the evaluator when assessing a custody matter. You will be asked about uncomfortable topics like mental health, drug use, alcohol use, the history of your relationship with your co-parent, criminal history, family history, etc. Be ready to discuss these questions openly.
If you are concerned about your history, discuss your concerns with your attorney. He or she will help you become more comfortable on this topic and discuss how you can fix any problems. It’s okay to admit things you’ve done in the past, but be sure to explain why those missteps won’t happen again in the future. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. Being able to admit these mistakes can actually be a good thing in a psychological assessment.
Be ready to respond to a request to sign publications for personal information
The psychologist may want to speak to witnesses. He or she may ask for permission to speak to the school, pediatrician, therapist, or other professional in the child. You should be ready to sign releases for the child’s information. If you have any concerns about disclosing the child’s records, discuss this with your lawyer.
The evaluator may ask for your mental health information to be released. You cannot be forced to post your mental health records or treatment information. However, if you refuse to cooperate in making this information public, the court can assume that you are hiding something. Talk to your attorney about how much information to share, whether you should agree to share all, some, or none of your mental health information. Another option is to send a letter from your therapist instead of fully approving it. You can allow your therapist to speak to the reviewer but ask them not to share any written files. Your lawyer can talk to you about how to resolve these issues.
Remember, it is very important to fully share your mental health with your attorney. Only with full disclosure can an attorney provide you with adequate advice based on your circumstances.
Don’t be afraid of your mental health. Remember, most family law professionals (including judges) believe that therapy can be helpful. Custody disputes are stressful. It is better to work with a therapist when necessary than to need one and refuse to attend therapy. Remember that the person who is evaluating you is a mental health professional.
Prioritize your concerns about your co-parent
Be aware of the concerns that matter most to you. Make sure you fully explain these major concerns while still addressing minor concerns. You want the evaluator to clearly understand the difference between what is a major problem for you and what is just annoying.
Know what to bring
The parties often want to demonstrate the problems they are facing. Remember that your words are evidence. You don’t need to document everything. You should select four or five messages with your co-parent to give the evaluator examples to review. You may also want to collect important psychological, educational, or emotional information about your child, such as: B. their IEP, treatment records, communications from professionals, etc. When you speak to the evaluator, you may ask if he or she will find additional information helpful. you. If additional documents would be helpful, you can submit them after the first meeting.
do not lie
While this seems obvious, it’s important to remember that honesty is important. Practice your responses as you need to be open about the private and sensitive matters in your life. Whatever you do, make sure these answers are true. Losing credibility to the reviewer can seriously affect your custody case.
After reviewing these tips, prepare an agenda for a meeting with your lawyer. Discuss your problem areas and what you think are problem areas of your co-parents. Having a plan for the evaluation will help you take part in the evaluation in a calmer and more orderly manner. You will likely still be nervous, but once you have a plan your nerves will be easier to manage.
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