Facing A Mental Health Assessment As Part Of Your Child Custody Case: What To Do
Child custody cases in court often involve mental health assessments for parents who may be facing a mental health crisis, drug or alcohol addiction, or may otherwise be showing signs that they may need to be evaluated prior to gaining custody of their children. Mental health assessments can be ordered for any parent seeking sole or partial custody of their children if the other parent or the court system has concerns about a parent's well-being. All court-ordered assessments should be appropriately followed through so a court case may continue as ordered.
If you are facing mental health assessments as part of your child custody case, try not to panic. These assessments can be ordered with little warrant, and can even be ordered if another parent simply requests that one be done on one or both parents seeking custody. Here are things to do if you are facing mental health assessments as part of your child custody case.
Do any assessment you're assigned to do
Odds are, the court is simply ordering a mental health evaluation on you because it's part of their system protocol. These mental health assessments are typically done by having a counselor interview the parent(s) involved and reviewing any mental health and medical records on file for the person in question, and they don't necessarily mean that you won't be awarded custody of your children in taking one. Quite the contrary: failure to follow any court-ordered test or mental health assessments can keep you from gaining the child custody you desire.
These mental health assessments are not designed to keep you away from your children, they're designed to show that you are indeed a fit parent and to determine what custody arrangement is best for everyone involved, including yourself. Don't take the mental health assessment personally, and get it done within the allotted time frame allowed.
Be honest with your counselor
If you have a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, be honest about them with your counselor. Being open and transparent with any conditions you do have — including how they affect you and what you are doing about them — will help show your mental fitness and well-being for the sake of your children. If you do need any guidance from a counselor in order to better connect with or gain custody of your children, you will learn these things at your assessment. By no means are mental health assessments meant to place parents in a bad light; rather, they are meant to help the courts verify that parents are indeed fit to take care of their children, regardless of any mental health issues they may be working with.