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One of the top priorities for divorcing parents is the well-being of their children. For this reason, disputes are not uncommon when it comes to what is best for the children. The circumstances are not always a simple matter of determining  how much time children get to spend with either parent. Sometimes, one parent has concerns about whether the other parent’s mental state compromises their ability to care for the children or make decisions for the children.  

How can a spouse’s competence be evaluated?

When the mental, physical, or vocational condition of a parent is in question, the court may order that person to submit to a physical, mental, or vocational evaluation by an expert designated by the questioning party. Issues surrounding a person’s mental or physical health, or their ability to work, often arise in the context of decision-making, parenting time, child support, or spousal maintenance disputes.

What can an attorney do to help?

An attorney should be able to advise if the issues in a case warrant such an evaluation, and assist in identifying an expert who can perform the evaluation and testify at trial, if necessary. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the initial cost of the evaluation may be considered the requesting parent’s responsibility.  However, the court can re-allocate this cost at trial if a good cause exists to do so.

The judge is charged with determining the best interests of the children. It may not always be an easy, or clear-cut decision. Often mental health professionals and experts can assist the judge in determining what is in the children’s best interest.  

At Hallier Stearns PLC, we are here to help. Contact us today for more information.