Psychological Evaluation in a California Divorce, Part 1

If a divorce involves children, then a court or a parent may request a Child Custody Evaluation, which is also known as a 730 Evaluation. A custody evaluation can consist of interviews with the parent and the children, psychological testing of the parents of the children, interviews with interested third parties such a teachers or babysitters, and a review of relevant documents, such as court records or criminal history.  The evaluator makes recommendations to the court about what is in the best interest of the children based on the totality of the data collected and reviewed. 

There are a variety of psychological tests that can be administered, but the MMPI-2 is commonly used in California.  This article will focus on the psychological testing portion, in particular the commonly used test, the MMPI-2. It is a true/false paper test that is used to assess a parent’s mental fitness and ability to parent effectively.  

Thus, this article gives information on some of the factors that are tested, but for most people, the best practice is to answer all questions as honestly as possible and not try to “beat the test,” since the test is trying to measure for people who are gaming it. This article is a very generalized summary of a complex test, so the information is not legal advice and should be used only for general educational purposes and not as a guide on how to take the test. 

What is the MMPI-2?

  • MMPI-2 stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. 
  • It is a 500+ questionnaire of true and false questions that individuals answer for themselves, and the responses help mental health professionals evaluate symptoms of mental illness or personality disorders. 

Answer all of the questions. 

  • If you do not answer all of the questions, this is a red flag for this type of test. If you fail to answer a substantial number, then the test may not even be valid. 

 Do not be surprised to see health related questions. 

  • This test is not used exclusively for divorce, and it is also commonly used for personal injury or disability claims. For that reason, there are a number of health-related questions that may seem irrelevant to a divorce but be sure to answer them. 

 Do not try to trick the test by answering all false or all true. 

  • For other types of tests, a strategy might be to answer all the questions as true of all the questions as false. This strategy will not work for the MMPI-2, and answering all the questions one way is a big red flag for this test that you are trying to game the system. 

 Be consistent throughout the test in your answers. 

  • The test measures consistency, so do not be surprised to see the same or similar questions early in the test and later on. The purpose of this is to see whether you are consistent in your answers. Be aware that inconsistency may be measured as dishonesty. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we are very familiar with the custody evaluation process and the psychological testing aspect of the 730 Evaluation. We have extensive experience in family law. We can help you feel confident in achieving your goals in a California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.