Clients often ask about seeking a mental evaluation of the other party. This is governed by Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 60. It states in relevant part:
60.01. EXAMINATION AND REPORT
(a) Order for Examination.
(1) In an action in which the mental condition, physical condition, or blood relationship of a party, or of an agent or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party (i) to submit to physical, mental, or blood examinations by physicians or other appropriate licensed health care providers or (ii) to produce for such examinations such party's agent or the person in such party's custody or legal control.
(2) In any action in which the vocational ability of a party, or of an agent or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party (i) to submit to evaluation by vocational rehabilitation professionals or (ii) to produce for such evaluation such party's agent or the person in such party's custody or legal control.
(3) Any order under this Rule 60.01(a) may be made only on motion for good cause shown, upon notice to the person against whom the order is sought and to all other parties. Such order shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, scope of, and identity of each person conducting the examination or evaluation. The court may, as a condition of its order, require the party requesting the order to reimburse the person who is the subject of the order for that person's reasonable round trip expenses in traveling more than sixty miles from the place of residence to the place of examination or evaluation.
(b) Report of Findings.
(1) If requested by the party against whom an order is made under Rule 60.01(a) or the person who is the subject of the order, the party obtaining the order shall deliver to the requesting person or party a copy of a detailed written report of the examiner or evaluator setting out the findings, including results of all tests made, diagnosis, and conclusions, together with like reports of all earlier examinations or evaluations of the same condition. After delivery, the party obtaining the order shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party against whom the order is made a like report of any examination or evaluation, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination or evaluation of a person not a party, the party shows an inability to obtain it. The court on motion shall make an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just; if an examiner or evaluator fails or refuses to make a report, the court may exclude the examiner's or evaluator's testimony if offered at the trial.
(2) By requesting and obtaining a report of the examination or evaluation so ordered or by taking the deposition of the examiner or evaluator, the person examined or evaluated waives any privilege the person may have in that action, or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or evaluated or may thereafter examine or evaluate the person in respect of the same mental condition, physical condition, vocational ability, or blood relationship.
(3) This Rule 60.01(b) applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise, and does not preclude discovery of a report of or the taking of a deposition of the examiner or evaluator in accordance with the provisions of any other rule.
510.040 RSMo states as follows:
Court may order physical and mental examinations. — In an action in which the mental or physical condition of a party is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order him to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician, chosen by the party requesting the examination. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the party to be examined and to all other parties not in default and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made. Such physician shall be deemed the witness of the party procuring the examination unless called as a witness in court by the opposing party. Upon his request and without cost to himself the party examined shall be furnished by such order with a full written report of the examination.
A case called Roth has defined the standard for determining when a mental health evaluation is appropriate. Specifically, the court stated, “The trial court has an affirmative duty in ascertaining the best interests of the child. In order to make a sound and prudent judgment, the judge should be able to have at his/her disposal all available pertinent evidence in determining child custody. The legislature has given to the courts the tools to deal with this pervasive issue of child abuse and neglect and the trial courts should use them.” Roth v. Roth, 793 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Mo. Ct. App. 1990). The Roth Court went on to state that Courts in Missouri have acknowledged the propriety and availability of an order requiring a party in a custody proceeding to submit to a physical or mental examination pursuant to Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 60.01.
If you believe your case or situation requires a mental health evaluation, please call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130 to discuss the facts of your case and how it might benefit from a mental health evaluation.