It is not surprising that many child custody disputes in Annapolis and elsewhere are difficult to resolve. A lot of times, parents are indeed able to come to an agreement either by themselves or with the assistance of a court-appointed arbitrator, but this is not always the case. When parents are unable to resolve the dispute, it is often left to a family law judge to make a decision about the child custody arrangement. As a recent article by an Annapolis doctor points out, the judge will take into account several factors, one of which may be the advice of a child psychiatrist. For those seeking custody of their child, a little background about when the advice of a psychiatrist is sought may prove to be informative.
First, it is important to understand that child psychiatrists may become involved in the court proceeding in one of two ways: as a treating psychiatrist or as a custody evaluator. Under the former, the psychiatrist is someone who has previously treated the child or is currently treating the child. As such, the court may subpoena the records of the psychiatrist or ask them to testify at a hearing. When this happens, the psychiatrist is almost always bound by patient confidentiality and usually may only release the records if a parent allows it.
As a custody evaluator, the psychiatrist is someone ordered by the court to conduct a custody evaluation. In such a role, the psychiatrist is meant to provide an impartial report to answer questions posed either by an attorney or the court. These questions are usually based on factors the court will take into consideration, such as the mental health of the child and the ability of each parent to meet the needs of the child.
Obviously, child custody disputes decided by a court can become very complex very quickly. Parents involved in a dispute may well benefit from the advice of an experienced Annapolis family law attorney. The attorney may be able to assist with navigating a very complicated situation and ensure that the court takes into account factors that weigh strongly in favor of the attorney's client.
Source: The Psychiatric Times, "Custody Disputes," Brian Zimnitzky, Oct. 7, 2011