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Can Mental Health Expertise Be Misused in Court?

The expertise of mental health professionals can be valuable in divorce and child custody cases. Mental health professionals may provide different types of therapy to the parties involved or make recommendations for a family’s situation. However, it is possible for this expertise to be misused in court.

Mental health professionals involved in family law cases are ethically obligated to prioritize the children’s best interests when making recommendations in a divorce or custody case. When these individuals fail to follow ethical standards and instead base recommendations off of the person who hired them, their report becomes unreliable. A skilled attorney can help fight back against the misuse of mental health expertise in court.

Ethical Standards for Mental Health Professionals

It is important to clearly lay out the role of a mental health professional in a family law case. Who they provide therapy for and the type of therapy they provide both affect the confidentiality of their services. When the role of this individual is clear, the appropriate ethical guidelines can be applied, and issues of confidentiality addressed from the start.

An example of this is with court-appointed mental health professionals. These individuals’ role is to report back to the court, so they have no obligation of confidentiality. Conversely, a treating therapist that is not appointed by the court is ethically obligated to keep information confidential. If this therapist then went on to disclose confidential information with the other spouse or the court, they would be violating ethical standards.

Finding a Credible Mental Health Professional

First and foremost, it can be beneficial to work with a mental health professional with experience in dealing with family conflict. When looking for a mental health professional to work with your family, it is wise to look for relevant experience and qualifications that pertain to your specific type of case.

The more qualified and credible a mental health professional is, the more weight the judge will put on a recommendation. For example, a custody evaluator should be someone that the courts are familiar with who routinely dedicates their practice to custody evaluations and has a known history of dealing with different types of evaluations of parties in conflict.

A Skilled Attorney Can Explain the Consequences of Mental Health Expertise Misuse

Mental health expertise can be incredibly helpful during a divorce or child custody trial; but it is also important to understand the potential ethical and confidentiality issues that may come with it. A knowledgeable attorney can discuss the ethical standards that different types of experts are held to and ensure that you understand the confidentiality of your information. Call today to learn more.

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