Psychological Assessments and Custody

During any divorce or custody case, the ability of each parent to provide a loving and caring home for their child will need to be scrutinized by the court.  The ultimate issue when making a custody decision is what is in a child’s best interest, and there are many factors that go into that decision.  The mental and physical health of each parent will clearly play a role.  In some contested cases, one or both parents may question the mental health of the other parent. If this is the case, one or both parents may file a motion with the court to ask that the other parent submit to psychological testing.

woman talking to therapist

In Minnesota, the most common type of test used if the motion is granted is called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.  The purpose of the test is to “identify psychological disorders and to evaluate cognitive functioning.”  However, the test’s purpose specifically states that it cannot state which parent will make the better parent.  This test consists of a long list of questions and will try to obtain information in several different areas, ranging from emotional dysfunction to gauging antisocial behavior and lack of impulse control.  Other more serious traits such as schizoid attitudes and neuroses can also be assessed with this test.   The Personality Assessment Inventory is also frequently used in conjunction with the MMPI.  The test is slightly shorter and includes many clinical scales including sleep disorders, paranoia, lack of empathy, and drug or alcohol issues.  Taken together, these tests can provide the court with important information about which parent may have the better tools to provide the most stable and nurturing environment for a child.

Parents deciding to seek a psychological examination for the other parent should be aware of several things.  First, there is an expense.  Psychological examinations often have to be paid for by the requesting party, and can easily run into the thousands of dollars.  Second, if a parent requests an assessment for the other parent, it is likely that the requesting parent will also be required to submit to an assessment.  Finally, parents should only request an evaluation in good faith.  A court will not take kindly to a parent who is using assessments and procedures merely to intimidate or harass the other parent.

Deciding whether a psychological assessment will be helpful in your case needs to be done with a skilled and experienced attorney.  We have helped many clients with making this decision.  Contact us today at (651) 371-9117 for an appointment to talk about strategy for your case.