Custody cases can be rather complex to navigate. In most situations, emotions run high as parents negotiate what custody arrangements will look like. At times, lawyers, like skilled child custody attorneys in Arizona, will request that a child’s therapist testify in a custody cases. This is especially true if their testimony could be helpful, resulting in a favorable outcome.
Role of the Child Therapist
In some situations, a child’s therapist may be willing to collaborate around the court process, even making recommendations around the wellbeing of the child. They can be vital in supporting the mediation process when families are trying to negotiate custody arrangements. In situations that are far more adversarial, a therapist can be stuck in a sticky situation. The role of the therapist is not to support an attorney’s agenda but to provide treatment to their client. When child custody cases become contentious and heavily involved in the court process, a therapist is often not willing to testify. Often an attorney must subpoena the therapist in order to get them to appear in court.
Psychologist as an Expert Witness
An attorney may employ an expert witness such as a psychiatrist or psychologist to evaluate the parties, including the child. This will allow for testimony to be given regarding their assessment of the family system. Sometimes, this may result in a recommendation around custody. An expert witness can be beneficial in persuading the courts to support the argument that the attorney is trying to make. Psychologists will assess the parents and child in a number of ways, often looking at: caregiver affect, parenting skills, even their mental health stability. They will be vital in determining if the parent is capable of meeting the needs of the child and can make recommendations around what is in their best interest. In some situations, especially when combative, both parties may have the aid of several expert witnesses to help support their case. Your attorney will be able to coordinate this, as it’s likely they will have a list of experts that they use for this purpose.
A family law attorney will be helpful in determining whether or not the child’s attorney or an expert witness should be subpoenaed for court. You attorney will be important in deciphering if their testimony will be helpful to the case. In most cases, therapists try to stay away from legal proceedings if possible. It will be important to speak with the therapist and your attorney to see if their testimony will be possible.
Thanks to our contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into testimony by a child therapist in a custody case.