Mental Health and Custody Evaluations
Custody “battles” are one of the worst parts of a divorce case. Fighting over children, while sometimes a necessity, is expensive, both financially and emotionally. Sometimes, one, or both parents’, mental health is a factor when a court is deciding custody. If you are going through a custody fight, contact the attorneys at The Taradash Group to help you navigate the different ways mental health issues can come into play.Types of Mental Health Evaluations
Basically, there are three areas of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and Illinois Supreme Court Rules that allow for mental health evaluations: a 604.10(b) evaluation; a 604.10(c) evaluation; and a 215 evaluation.What is a 604.10(b) Evaluation?
Under 604.10 (b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, “the court may seek the advice of any professional, whether or not regularly employed by the court, to assist the court in determining the child’s best interests.” The evaluator in this role is the court’s professional. While the parties pay for the evaluation, the evaluator is the court’s witness. This evaluator is supposed to be a neutral and not on either parent’s side. Because the evaluator is the court’s witness, the report can be admitted into evidence without having the evaluator present in court.
This provision of the law allows the court to appoint a custody evaluator when the parents cannot agree on allocating parental responsibilities (formerly “custody” and “visitation”). The evaluator is usually a psychologist or psychiatrist. During this evaluation, the expert will interview the child, the parents and any collaterals he/she deems important. The parents and the child will also undergo a series of tests. At the conclusion of the interviews and testing, the evaluator will issue his/her report and submit it to the court. While judges tend to give considerable consideration and weight to the report, the judge is free to reject the expert’s recommendations.What is a 604.10(c) Evaluation?
Under 604.10(c) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, if one of the parents does not agree with the 604.10(b) report, he/she can retain their own expert to conduct another custody evaluation. This person is technically the “hired gun” of the person who retains the expert. The parent who requests this evaluation pays the evaluator’s fees and costs. If this report is in contradiction to the 604.10(b) report, then there will be “dueling” experts at trial.What is a 215 Evaluation?
Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215(a), if a parent’s physical or mental condition is at issue, the court may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination. This expert can be a psychologist, psychiatrist, sociologist or other licensed professional. The parent who requests this examination is solely responsible for the payment of this expert’s fees and costs.
Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215(d), the court may appoint an impartial medical examiner when it appears that this examination will materially aid the court in determining the parenting issues.Are You Going Through a Custody Battle/Evaluation?
If you are going through a custody battle and the mental and/or physical well being of you or your spouse is at issue, contact the skilled attorneys at The Taradash Group, P.C. They have the experience and knowledge to assist and guide you through this difficult process. Click here, or call 312-775-1020 to schedule a free consultation.