SHOULD A THERAPIST PROVIDE AN AFFIDAVIT IN A CONTESTED FAMILY COURT HEARING?
Often those in the helping professions get drawn into the darkness of marital litigation. Here are four (4) things to consider should a child’s therapist be asked to provide evidence in a contested custody case.
- You are a “fact witness”: Know that you are a potential witness if you are treating a child who is the subject of custody litigation. Either attorney may subpoena your file and request that you prepare and Affidavit or submit sworn testimony in court. You cannot avoid this. It is just the same as if you were a witness to a car accident: you would be asked to provide testimony as to what you saw and did.
- Expert Testimony: As a fact witness you will not be asked to give an opinion on one of the ultimate issues at stake in the case. Opinions can only be given by expert witnesses and they are paid accordingly. Your testimony is related only to what you have seen and done.
- The Affidavit: Some times a therapist is requested by one side in custody litigation to prepare an Affidavit. An Affidavit that is presented in court is similar to sworn testimony only it is in writing. You are not required to provide an Affidavit if you do not want to. However, if you have legitimate concerns that go to the well being of a child you may want towork with the attorney to prepare an appropriate Affidavit for court.
- Litigation: If you are a fact witness and have given an Affidavit for court, know that you are now a witness in a contested family court case. This means that you could be deposed, your case file subpoenaed, and you will likely be required to testify at a trial.