In its January 28, 2015 decision in Carlin v. Carlin, the Appellate Division, Second Department, upheld the removal of the forensic evaluator previously court-appointed in the parties’ divorce action.

On the renewed motion for the removal made by the wife, she submitted a letter from the Mental Health Professionals Certification Committee for the First and Second Judicial Departments to the evaluator, informing him that he had been removed from the Mental Health Professionals Panel. On that basis, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Joseph Santorelli vacated the prior appointment.

In any case involving custody, visitation and other specified family matters, a judge is authorized to appoint a mental health professional to evaluate the family

The Mental Health Professionals Panel was established by the Appellate Division, First and Second Judicial Departments, to ensure that courts and parties have “access to qualified mental health professionals” who are available to evaluate the parties and to assist courts in reaching appropriate decisions as to, inter alia, custody and visitation (22 N.Y.C.R.R. 623). The Certification Committee is tasked with the responsibility of recommending eligible mental health professionals for appointment to the panel, investigating complaints against panel members, and recommending removal of panel members to the Presiding Justices of the First and Second Judicial Departments.

The panel is comprised of approximately 266 licensed psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, whose names can be accessed in the MHP Resource Directory 2014.

The Departments publish a 2013 Mental Health Professionals Handbook which serves to familiarize the panel with the procedures and protocols for handling court ordered mental health evaluations. It includes relevant regulations and statutory provisions, administrative policies, court forms, and sample orders.

Peter Panaro of Massapequa represented the wife. Christopher J. Chimeri of counsel to Campagna Johnson, P.C., of Hauppauge represented the husband.