Timesharing and the mental stability of a parent as an issue in controversy

Question: Can a parent request the court to order the other parent to submit to a mental / psychological evaluation in a child custody (what we now call “timesharing”) proceeding?

Answer: Child Custody proceedings (what we now call in Florida “timesharing”) can be, at times, very contentious and emotional. Sometimes parents are unable to agree on when the children may spend time with the other parent; who may be involved with the children; pick up and drop off of the children; etc.  Simply pleading for majority timesharing and alleging that the other parent is not as good a parent as you and will not work with you, is insufficient to warrant an evaluation of the other parent’s mental state and does not put the other parent’s mental state “in controversy”. If a parent has credible evidence that the other parent has engaged in behavior that is relevant to timesharing and which may adversely affect the children, then you must specifically plead this matter and request an evaluation.  

Before a court will permit an evaluation of the other parent’s mental state, the issue must not only be “in controversy” but also “good cause” must be shown for the evaluation. The burden is on you, the parent seeking the evaluation. For example, and without limitation, you would need to prove the other parent has recently been arrested for a third DUI within the past year; or, that the other parent was recently Baker Acted for attempting suicide or overdosing on an illicit narcotic(s). Conclusory statements in a pleading are not sufficient. You would need to testify as well as perhaps an expert or other person who has first hand knowledge (personally observed the other parent’s behavior).

Courts do operate from the premise that both parents are fit and proper persons to have timesharing and shared parental responsibility. However, the polestar of any timesharing proceeding is the best interests of the children. If the interests of the children may be adversely affected by a parent’s conduct or behaviors, then you may file the appropriate motion and address these issues with the Court.

If you need more information on Florida divorce law, please feel free to call me at 727-895-5858. I do provide a FREE initial consultation. Or follow me on Facebook at: Facebook.com/goodmanatlaw. I welcome all comments and inquiries.

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