Has the Expert Gone Fishing?

Judges increasingly use court appointed experts to help them make decisions in complex custody cases. Such cases usually involve abuse allegations, major psychological concerns or extreme conflict. As such, the expert will undertake a systematic approach to rendering an opinion about which parent should have custody. One of the tools used by a custody expert is that of a psychological examination. Court-ordered psychological examinations are intrusive. Evaluators ask personal questions, administer tests that assess emotional problems, and probe examinees’ lives with interviews of family members, friends, and employers.

The law, recognizing the intrusive nature of court-ordered mental examinations, requires that “good cause” be shown to justify ordering a litigant to undergo the examination. In family law, the “good cause” requirement may be interpreted liberally because the court may deem the broad best interest of the child standard as sufficient “good cause.”

But some evaluators, believing that more information increases the evaluation’s reliability, go fishing. They routinely ask for tax records, credit card statements, or phone bills, among other personal documents, even if the information has little, if any, relevance to the evaluation’s purpose. Then they detail the information in the report they file with the court. If you find yourself subjected to an expert who is out of control then you need Justice! Contact the Justice Legal Group at 505-880-8737 or email us at info@JusticeLegalGroup.com and let us help you maneuver your complex custody case.