Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Family Law Procedure

If a party to a Florida family law case wants the other party to undergo psychological testing, specific steps must be followed. The rule guiding these types of evaluations is found in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. Generally, the party seeking such an evaluation must show that good cause exists for one and that the condition subject to examination be in controversy. Such evaluations are most commonly requested in cases involving a child custody dispute.

In the paternity case Delgado v. Miller, 3D18-2500 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019), the mother appealed the trial court’s order requiring her to undergo a psychological evaluation. The parties agreed the requirements of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure were not met, but the father argued that the mother agreed to the evaluation. Therefore, the father argued, the mother waived non-compliance with the rules of procedure.

The appellate court sided with the mother, holding, “The order, on its face, is inconsistent with the Father's argument. The proposed order, which Father's counsel drafted, was originally titled "CONFIDENTIAL AGREED ORDER FOR BOTH PARTIES TO UNDERGO PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS." However, when the trial court allowed the Mother to review the proposed order, she did not agree to its terms, so the trial court crossed out "CONFIDENTIAL AGREED" from the title and signed it anyway. Although the Mother had conditionally agreed to a psychological evaluation at an earlier case management conference, the proposed order did not reflect the conditions of that agreement. Because there was no agreement, a psychological evaluation could only be ordered in compliance with rules 1.360 and 12.360. Failure to comply with these rules is a departure from the essential requirements of the law. [. . .] We therefore grant the Petition for Writ of Certiorari and quash the trial court's November 13, 2018 order compelling the parties to undergo psychological evaluations.”

As one may imagine psychological evaluations carry heavy implications, especially in paternity cases. If you believe one may be needed in your Florida family law case, or you are being asked to undergo one, contact a Miami child custody lawyer for assistance. Through a consultation, you can understand your rights and how to proceed.