What to Do About Your Florida Parenting Plan if Your Ex-Spouse Has Begun Showing Signs of Mental Health Problems

Timesharing cases often can be among the most contentious types of family law matters. Sometimes, though, it’s very different. You want your ex to have time – maybe even the majority of the time – with the children, just like your parenting plan says. But lately, he/she has begun displaying troubling behaviors – perhaps indicative substance issues or maybe mental health problems. Now your focus is primarily upon ensuring the safety of your child. When you’re in that kind of situation, make certain you are doing everything you can to protect your child’s well-being. That includes retaining an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

For V.L., a mom from Naples involved in a parenting dispute, the “red flag” about her ex-husband’s mental health was a timesharing exchange in late November 2019. At some point during that exchange, the father phoned the police. An officer arrived and, upon encountering the man, “determined that the father was suffering from an anxiety attack and was in a ‘practically paralyzed’ state, barely able to communicate.”

The episode was so bad that had the child not already been scheduled to go to V.L. anyway, the officer “would not have allowed the father to leave with or without the child while he was in such a state due to the officer’s fear for the father’s and child’s safety.” The responding officer told V.L. of the officer’s “concerns about the father’s ability to care for the child during an emergency.”

If something like that happens to your child’s other parent, you can go to court and ask the judge to order your ex-spouse to undergo a psychological examination. A mandatory psychological exam is a very serious step, however, and it’s not one that the judge will undertake lightly, so you need to be sure that you have ample proof that supports your position.

In V.L.’s case, she had substantial evidence. She had the testimony of the police officer who encountered the father during that November 2019 timesharing exchange. On top of that, the father’s own testimony during the case also supported the mother’s position. These things, according to the appeals court, were enough to give the trial judge “sufficient good cause” to order the exam.

A parent ordered to have an exam also is entitled to protections

On the other side, if you’re the parent being ordered to undergo psychological testing, it is important to recognize that you are entitled to certain legal protections. Any order mandating a psychological examination of a parent in connection with a parental responsibility and timesharing case must inform the parent to be tested about: (1) who will be doing the testing, (2) the length of the examination, (3) the type of testing to be performed, and (4) whether “the testing is limited to routine psychological methods.”

A lot of times, when a timesharing dispute arises, it is easy to lose sight of what’s most important… and that is the safety and well-being of the child(ren). If your child’s other parent is demonstrating behaviors that may point to a potential impairment in caring for your child, your first job is to protect your child. If that means engaging the legal system, be sure you have the legal representation you need. Count on the thoughtful and skillful South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to be that sort of advocate for you. Our attorneys have many years of helping Florida parents and are ready to get to work for you. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.